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Climate Alliance blasts Tory housing plans

February 18, 2021 3:15 PM

The Wiltshire Local Plan review has been strongly criticised by environmental groups. Here's a message from them to local councillors:


We are writing to you to share our grave concerns about Wiltshire Council's proposals for the Wiltshire Local Plan (2016-36), which is now, and for the first time, being consulted upon.

We believe that the proposed Plan would be severely damaging to the Climate and to our County's natural environment and long-term sustainability.

In fact, what is being proposed would promote physical development on some of our most precious countryside and farmland, destroying natural capital, removing carbon sinks and releasing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, as a result of concreting and asphalting over green fields. In some areas, extended, and completely unnecessary, 'flyovers' are being proposed that would traverse flood plains, rivers and historic canals. In others, valued heritage and green spaces used for leisure, cycling and walking would be permanently damaged or lost. Many of the proposed expanded settlements would simply increase reliance on cars and lock in huge quantities of tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions as a result of even more commuting.

By agreeing to the Government housing numbers (calculated by an outdated [2014] formula that places high housing targets on rural counties) Wiltshire Council is putting unsustainable pressure on our towns and parishes' ability to cope, and abusing the very concept of 'sustainable development'. Worse still, Wiltshire Council has agreed to take on an additional 5,000 houses above the approximately 41,000 prescribed under this formula, putting yet more pressure on our Climate and environment. It even proposes to accommodate some of this by selling off County farms for short term gain, whilst neglecting to consider brownfield development or include as part of its housing figures.

This myopic focus on excessive housing numbers at the expense of all else, is at the heart of the problem, and we will be urging Wiltshire Council to make Climate Change and the environment the priority it needs to be, in order to secure our future and that of generations to come. We are therefore asking you to consider the adverse impact of Wiltshire Council's proposals as a whole, in addition to those affecting your town, parish or wider local area.

In particular:

  • to question the need for such high housing numbers in a rural county, to which this would cause irreparable damage, and which does not have the local employment to support such substantial in-migration;
  • to urge the Council to calculate in advance the damage to the Climate (in terms of greenhouse gas emissions) and our local environment (in terms of loss of farmland and natural capital), that these proposals would cause, so that more transparent and informed decisions can be made; and
  • to ask the Council to withdraw its current proposals, treat climate change as a key priority and come back with a proposed Local Plan that is fit for the 21st Century and the future challenges we are all now facing.

Finally, we are concerned that the consultation is proving difficult to respond to for residents and even some town and parish councils. This ranges from accessing information to even being aware that the consultation is happening. We would therefore ask you to join us in asking for an extension to the consultation period, so that towns, parishes, stakeholder organisations and residents will have time to examine the vast quantity of information and prepare a proper response.

Please get in touch if you would like advice or support in responding to the consultation from a climate and ecological perspective.

The Wiltshire Climate Alliance Steering Group,
for and on behalf of the Wiltshire Climate Alliance