Comments to planning committee

In opposition to The Moors development proposal: WODC 21/03405/OUT

I oppose this planning application(Numbered sections refer to National Planning Policy Framework 2018 -PP)
Housing developments are being built at a huge rate in Witney and the surrounding area. Oxford city has been unable to fill their quota of new housing as directed by the government, and has passed this onto surrounding towns. Because of this, developers have easier access to greenfield sites. ‘It is not hard to argue that Britain’s infrastructures are generally not fit for purpose, even if we add the extra 10 million people and all the houses that are planned. If we do add these, and work out how much transport, energy, water and sewerage, and communications demand they will add on top, the scale of the new infrastructure development requirements that emerge is very large- with potentially massive implications for the natural environment. (Dieter Helm, 2019, Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside, p53)

Affect local ecology [179 & 180 PP)
‘The government’s own assessment, published in August 2016 found that a hundred and fifty of two hundred so-called priority species are still falling in numbers across the country [the uk] and we are in imminent danger of losing 10-15 percent of our species overall. It is tempting to assume that such declines are no different to the rest of the world. But they are different. Using the ‘biodiversity intactness index’ – a new system that measures the condition of the country’s biodiversity – the updated 2016 State of Nature report discovered that the uk has lost significantly more biodiversity over the long term than the world average. Ranked twenty-ninth lowest out of 218 countries, we are among the most nature depleted countries in the world. (Isabella Tree, 2018 Wilding: The return of Nature to a British Farm p7) ‘The world lives within us: we live within the World. By damaging the living planet we have diminished our existence.’ (George Monbiot, 2017, How Did We Get into this Mess? P91)

Danger of Flooding [159 PP]
Excess housing in this area also affects the natural flood plains. No amount of man made structure is better than water being soaked up by opening the rivers to their natural floodplains and allowing plants and animals to use the water meadows which form, such as has been achieved at Chimney Meadows nearby. This also takes away the need for the constant upkeep of waterways, flood defence structures and channels. Natural Witney town has flooded, most recently in the Christmas of 2020, almost flooded in 2014 and flooded severely in 2007. The extra housing, especially those on natural floodplains, are hugely increasing chances of flooding in Ducklington, the allotments adjacent to this field and in the local area in general. Building on this site would also mean losing another floodplain which would be perfect for rewilding, which would in turn raise biodiversity levels and provide an important wildlife corridor connecting habitats with the lake as well as mitigating against flooding in the village. ‘natural flood management can help deliver more expansive landscape changes than has previously been the case, while also saving money and delivering other benefits alongside flood protection, thus benefiting the environment, society and the economy.’ (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 2015, Natural Flood Management Handbook)

Other- Mitigate against effects of Global Warming[152 PP]
As we know, the earth has a finite amount of resources. Growth and building work uses these in the form of mineral extraction. Gill Mill has recently applied to expand its facility to extract minerals in order to accommodate the huge amount of building in the local area. Nature allows for the capture and storage of CO2 which is negatively affecting the planet in the form of global warming. Green spaces with trees and plants are very good at storing carbon. Most notably, water meadows are one of the best carbon capturers. Building more and more housing developments are also using up nonrenewable natural mineral resources and releasing carbon when these are taken out of the ground. ‘Habitat destruction has not only been the lead cause of biodiversity loss, it has been, and continues to be one of the lead causes of greenhouse gas emissions. The world’s land plants and soils combined contain two to three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. By tearing down trees, burning forests, dredging wetlands and ploughing wild grasslands, we have released two-thirds of this historic stored carbon to date. Removing the wild has cost us dearly.’ (David Attenburgh, 2020, A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future) Air pollution and runoff from the increase in cars (potentially 100-240 extra) to this village would also negatively affect the planet as well as people and nature. Wild spaces allow polluting chemicals and gases to be soaked up by both plants and soil. [185PP]

Other- Healthy lifestyles [92cPP] &Summary
As well as being important for wildlife, green spaces and nature is of vital importance to our health and wellbeing as humans, and in fact low biodiversity levels even threaten our very existence. There is a field that the villagers have walked through for years that they call ‘The Moors’ on the edge of a small village called Ducklington. The villagers love it. Myself and my kids love it. It’s next to a stream and it’s next to our allotments. People’s kids have walked though the field to school for decades, they’ve played there, looked at insects, maybe been lucky enough to see a young badger cub playing in the morning dew. Maybe those kids have taken that breath of fresh air with them through that stressful day at school. During lockdown people escaped from within the four walls of their house to sit amongst nature here. In short, it is a common natural area essential to the mental health of local people. This field should be rewilded, not covered in concrete.