I am here representing the Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group.
Purpose 1. Of Your Management Plan is:
“ To conserve and enhance natural beauty , wildlife and cultural heritage”
Most people would think a Flower rich hay meadow would be the embodiment of natural beauty and wildlife, the result of traditional farming that is our cultural heritage. Other National Parks celebrate the importance of hay meadows, why can’t you?
We have provided you with photographs of this beautiful meadow. We have also sent you a great deal of detailed information, explaining why this meadow is so special and important for wildlife and why it should be protected.
For example, your Farmland Bird Initiative seeks to monitor 19 farmland bird species in order to measure your progress in safeguarding and enhancing biodiversity. This meadow supports 13 of them.
It takes decades of careful management and substantial government grants to create a meadow of this quality. But it only takes one careless decision to destroy it. Is that really what you want to do today?
Your Partnership Management Plan lists so many policies and guidelines that make it clear you should be protecting this site.
The original allocation was withdrawn following a section 18 Consultation because it was too close to the SSSI and SPA.
This new proposal which appeared just a few days before the end of the consultation period, is in the same meadow, just 100 metres to the west but with twice as many houses and taking four times as much land.
The allocation of the rest of the meadow as an open space will bring public access right up to the boundary of the SSSI and much nearer to the SPA than your original proposal.
Conservation organizations including; SWT and RSPB have objected to so many houses so close to the SPA. Your draft HRA actually states “that disturbance to wildlife was the main problem for wetlands!” “ particularly where visitors walked with dogs” but in mitigation their solution is to “promote engagement with dog walkers” and “a commitment to influence visitor behaviour” This is derisory.
This is a major development, not a medium level one as you claimed in local papers. How is it in the public interest to destroy this special habitat?
Why is this utterly unsuitable site being given such an excessive allocation and such exceptional treatment?
Given the highly sensitive ownership of SD64 we would expect the highest standards of impartiality in this allocation. Sadly, this is not the public perception.
Our members are calling for the section 18 consultation that they have been deprived of, or better still the withdrawal of SD64 in favour of a much more suitable site, one of which has come to your attention in the last month but so far you have refused to consider it.
Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group