Proposed 'eco-town' will harm wildlife
A list of potential eco-towns published today still contains developments that would damage existing wildlife sites. Of most concern is the proposed development at Bordon in Hampshire, which would see a large number of homes built close to the internationally protected Wealden Heaths SPA. This would put increasing pressure on the area as thousands more people used the heaths for recreation, risking disturbance to threatened birds like Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark.
Bordon remains on the shortlist released today with the Government's draft eco-towns Planning Policy Statement. This lays out the environmental standards and targets the developments would need to meet. Each of the 12 proposals is rated a, b or c, depending on how closely they match the draft standards. Just one is rated 'a'meaning it is viewed as an "ideal" location for an eco-town. Bordon is rated 'b'meaning it needs to meet "specific planning and design objectives" before being granted permission.
The other development of concern to the RSPB, Weston Otmoor, in Oxfordshire, has been rated 'c,' putting its future in doubt. Simon Marsh, the RSPB's Head of Planning and Regional Policy, said: "We broadly welcome the standards and targets set out in today's draft policy, which sit well with the RSPB's vision for eco-towns. They must demonstrate the highest environmental standards and should protect and enhance the wildlife around them. However, the sites at Bordon and Weston Otmoor remain fundamental concerns because of the expected impact on designated wildlife sites, although we are encouraged that Weston has been identified as needing substantial further work in order to go forward."