[Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]
Cc Michael Gove
I recently attended the red squirrel conference in Exeter and was impressed by your passionate video introduction. I believe that you and Michael Gove are sincere in your intentions but I am afraid you are being undermined by your own Party and would be more effective working for an organisation with real environmental integrity such as The Wildlife Trust. You and Michael may be the most progressive and forward thinking Conservative Environment ministers that we have had in decades. I was very impressed when Michael stated “Outside the EU we are going to make sure that our environment is enhanced and protected. We believe in a greener Britain.”
Unfortunately I am afraid that I, like many others have given up on all Council and Government wildlife initiatives. Whilst paying lip service to wildlife groups and claiming to be green the reality is that they actually have a total disregard for environmental issues. The document “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment” contains enough positive ideology to satisfy most environmental campaigners. The document is elegantly designed and its content has been carefully thought out. It covers a huge range of subjects that I feel very strongly about: sustainable land use, enhancing the beauty and environmental worth of landscapes, and protection of wildlife.
The issue is the document is a vision and not legislation. It a collection of really good ideas but it is not law. When there is a conflict between potential industrial development, the provision of housing, and the environment, the ideals will get thrown into the river like toxic waste. If there is a chance for profit to be made councils will always find ways to get around even the most stringent protections. Sadly the “Green Future” is not seen as a moral compass for development it is just viewed as a bit of a nuisance. The proposed development on the pound in East Budleigh is a classic example. It clearly goes against the ideals expressed in the 25 year plan and the protection afforded to endangered species by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as Amended)
The proposed development ( 18/1464/FUL. ) involves demolition of a barn (dating back to the 17th century) containing 11 species of bats (Including Grey Long eared bats, and Greater Horseshoe bats), Dormouse habitat destruction, and a Badger set relocation. It has caused a local outcry, the involvement of Sir David Attenborough, Devon Wildlife Trust, features on Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight.
When the development was put to the EDDC Development Management Committee the council chamber was packed with objectors. The plans were still passed paving the way for the a new entrance to be put through a well loved and iconic local amenity space and the destruction of habitat for several endangered species. Councillors were not only out of step with the electorate but also showed a total disregard for Michael Gove’s twenty five year Environmental Plan and environmental protection legislation. The whole community as well a host of endangered species in East Budleigh will lose out just so that one house can be developed. Yet another totally unbalanced decision that will only benefit a local wealthy landowner by the Conservative lead East Devon District Council.