Jurrasic Park: a Halloween scary story

A scare story fit for Halloween. So scary that Owl is hooting with laughter.

 

Here is Owl’s dissection of the substance of the scare story recently spun by EDDC ex-Tory Councillor (and ex-leader) Ian Thomas, previously posted here:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/10/22/eddc-ex-tory-councillor-doesnt-like-the-idea-of-a-jurassic-national-park/

Whilst he may now claim to be “Independent” the “Project Fear” he spreads is the established view of the previous Tory Council (and many in the current council).

It’s all about the proposal to create a new National Park by combining the East Devon and Dorset AONBs.

This proposal is not new. Like the creation of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site before it, a considered and reasoned case has been building for a number of years now.

The bit that SCARES Cllr. Ian Thomas (and others in the council) is that, despite EDDC attempts to pour cold water on the idea in the past, it has now been given endorsement by the Glover Review. (The Glover Review of Designated Landscapes was commissioned by Michael Gove to report in the 70th anniversary year of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act).

It calls for National Parks and AONBs to have a clear national mission to reverse environmental decline and specifically calls for the creation of two new National Parks and a National Forest – one such park being the area of the Devon and Dorset AONB/World Heritage site.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/833726/landscapes-review-final-report.pdf

Cllr. Ian Thomas’ stated FEAR is that house prices in East Devon could rise ‘considerably’ if proposals for a new ‘Jurassic’ national park’ covering East Devon and Dorset are successful (when did prices last fall,in the recession)?

The REAL FEAR, however, is, Owl thinks, loss of power, particularly the power of development. As Ed Freeman (Service Lead Planning) put it in the penultimate paragraph of his review of Glover Report for Cllr. Susie Bond’s Strategic Planning Committee:

“….there may also be felt to be concerns around loss of power by this authority to another body.”

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/documents/s7143/4Protected%20Landscape%20Report.pdf

It is interesting that Dorset has no such worries and has enthusiastically endorsed the idea.

How fitting then at Halloween that Owl should do the scary thing and examine the FACTS!

In terms of protective policies, both National Parks and AONBs have identical aims. These are to “conserve and enhance natural beauty”. (National Parks have the further responsibility to conserve and enhance “wildlife and cultural heritage” as well.) National Parks also have a duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within their park (note – communities not just developers). The Glover review proposes that in respect of this duty, National Parks should go further and “respond proactively to local housing needs”.

So where is the scare?

Could it be that under past EDDC regimes AONB responsibilities to “protect and enhance” the area have simply been ignored, something that might be harder to do under different management and wider scrutiny?

If this is the case, then EDDC is in for a REAL SHOCK – a LOOK BEHIND YOU moment – because the Glover Review also proposes that both AONBs and National Parks should be staffed by a shared National Landscape Service and that AONBs should be given greater status in the planning system. AONBs should become statutory consultees, and should be supported to work towards local plans for their areas, prepared in conjunction with local authorities. For larger AONBs such as East Devon (specifically mentioned), this plan should have statutory status in place of local authority plans. So even if the National Park idea doesn’t get off the ground immediately, the cavalier approach EDDC has adopted in the past to its AONB will have to change if the Glover Report is taken up.

We don’t know what the next government might make of the Glover Review but, whatever political persuasionit has, we can safely assume it will look for ways of demonstrating its Environmental Protection credentials. Not pushing forward with Glover would be an obvious own goal.

There are many positive reasons to embrace the proposal to create a new National Park by combining the East Devon and Dorset AONBs with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Here are four in addition to the proactive management of local housing needs mentioned above.

1. Wildlife

East Devon and Dorset AONBs have distinctive and valuable ecologies which are important on a national scale. The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, which forms 5% of the East Devon AONB is one of the largest areas of lowland dry heaths in England and has European designation. Consolidation of these two AONBs within a new National Park would increase the biodiversity of the environment creating a continuous wildlife corridor nearly 70 miles long.

2. Farming Culture and impact on Heritage Landscape

In the past, only the larger landlords like CDE had the management structure and financial stability to promote landscape enhancement projects within the AONB. However, subsidies based on acreage are going to be changed to supporting specific environmental enhancements, distributed more widely. Depending on how it is managed this could make significant changes to protected landscapes. For instance, there could be haphazard re-wilding on a considerable scale. AONBs in the future will need to be more involved and supportive of the independent sector of farming if the Landscape is to be conserved and enhanced, thus becoming more like National Parks.

3. Tourism and Economic benefits

National Parks promote understanding and enjoyment of their area’s special qualities by the public. A clear identity as a National Park would bring an economic boost to East Devon. The South Downs NP has attracted over £100M in core support and project funding since 2011 and it is reasonable to expect an East Devon and Dorset NP to attract a similar level of funding. On a smaller scale, experience from the Pebblebed Heaths are that funds and grants become more readily available with higher environmental designations, in this case SSSI, SPA and SAC.

4. Recreation and Well-being for an ageing and growing population

Encouraging Recreation is already a National Park priority. Improving public enjoyment would go hand in hand with promoting activities to improve health and well-being. Improving these will become an overriding priority in our area which is not only set to grow and age but already has more than 30% of the population aged 65 or older. It will become even more necessary if Cllr. Phillip Skinners dream of creating a North West Quadrant of linked villages to support immigration of 12,000 is realised.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-could-getting-network-3454612

A confidant and forward-looking EDDC would now seek to form a joint liaison committee to work with the East Devon and Dorset National Park Team so as to get a seat at the table and maximise the opportunities, rather than continue to sulk in its (developer built?) kennel.

Are you scared now?

EDDC response to Jurassic National Park: sit back and do nothing

“Resolve to await the Governments response to the recommendations; and note that the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and the Dorset and East Devon AONBs are potential candidates for future designation as National Parks.”

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk//documents/s7143/4Protected%20Landscape%20Report.pdf

“Build commuter villages near train stations in green belt to solve housing crisis, Government told”

Fortunately, there is no green belt land in East Devon – most is around London – but our AONB could be at further risk – unless, of course, we get our Jurassic Coast National Park!

“A thousand “commuter villages” providing 2.1 million new homes should be built in the green belt near train stations to help solve Britain’s housing crisis, says a leading Government adviser and academic.

LSE professor Paul Cheshire, who has been a Government adviser for over a decade, said building the villages within 10 minutes walk of the 1,035 under-developed rail stations would offer easy and quick commutes to urban jobs while producing as many new houses as have been built in the last 15 years.

It would take commuters just 45 minutes to get to cities where they worked, providing them with environmentally “greener” and shorter journeys than many now face.

The 47,000 hectares of land needed would amount to just 1.8 per cent of the existing green belt in England but would increase the number of homes in Britain by almost 10 per cent.

Professor Cheshire’s report, for the think tank Centre for Cities, also calls for the current restrictions on affordable housing and community infrastructure levies to be replaced by a 20 per cent charge on developers when they sold the houses. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/21/build-commuter-villages-near-train-stations-green-belt-solve/

Possible Jurassic National Park for Dorset and ? East Devon

The Glover Report on National Parks and AONBs has just been published.

Disappointingly, there is no good news for the Jurassic Coast in East Devon – the only new national park suggested is in the Chilterns, with a new national forest based on Sherwood Forest and consideration for a new national park in Dorset only – though in a later part of the report East Devon is confusingly listed for consideration with Dorset!

See page 121 and 153 here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/833163/landscapes-review-final-report.pdf

This is in no small part due to the reluctance of the previous administration to support a move to include East Devon, as it did not want to lose control of planning. East Devon Alliance put in a submission to support a national park but it wasn’t enough to sway the report writers.

The report had much to say about enhancing AONBs but it needs the will of local politicians to act on its recommendations.

So, all in all, not the best news for our area.

“Have your say on the Jurassic Coast’s future” [suggestion: new National Park]

Now Mr Diviani is no longer leader of EDDC perhaps the idea of a Jurassic National Park can be resuscitated – he and his council were against this as they didn’t want to lose their control over planning (over-developing) the site:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/10/09/new-national-park-for-east-devon-not-while-people-like-diviani-are-councillors/

And surely we are not in the situation of caring what our CEO then and now thinks?

“The public is being asked to help draw up a new blueprint for the future management of the Jurassic Coast.

https://jurassiccoast.org/what-is-the-jurassic-coast/world-heritage/looking-after-the-jurassic-coast/partnership-plan-consultation/

The survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QLGGNSD

The trust which manages the site, stretching from Exmouth, in East Devon, to Studland, in Dorset, is creating a new partnership plan document in collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders.

It will be published towards the end of this year and will guide management of the World Heritage Site over the next five years.

The plan will take in conservation and preservation of the site, how the site impacts on the local economy and how it can play an active role in the lives of local communities.

As part of the creation of the new partnership plan, a consultation process is being untaken from now until the end of September.

A spokesman for the Jurassic Coast Trust said: “The new partnership plan is an important document, representing a tangible expression of the partnership that looks after the Jurassic Coast.

“It explains the reasons for the Jurassic Coast’s World Heritage designation, and how it is protected and managed.

“It also outlines the aims, policies, actions and aspirations for managing the site over the coming years.”

The partnership plan is a formal requirement and will replace the current site management plan, which, along with a copy of the new draft plan, can be seen by clicking on the Trust’s website here Alternatively a copy can be requested by telephoning the Trust’s office on 01308 807000.

People going online can contribute their views directly or they can download a printed version of the survey to fill in later.

The completed surveys should be sent directly to the

Jurassic Coast Trust,
email at:
info@jurassiccoast.org

or by post to:

Partnership Plan Consultation,
Jurassic Coast Trust,
Mountfield,
Bridport,
Dorset DT6 3JP

The Jurassic Coast Trust will also be running drop-in consultation sessions across the World Heritage Site area in September. Dates and venues will be announced towards the end of this month.

The deadline for responses to the survey is Friday, October 4. All comments received as part of the consultation will be collated. A report will be produced by the Jurassic Coast Partnership detailing the responses and indicating how the plan will be subsequently amended.

The report will be made available online and to anyone who has asked to be sent updates on the progress of the plan.

Once an amended version of the plan is agreed by the Jurassic Coast Partnership and approved by Historic England, it will be adopted by Dorset Council and Devon County Council before being formally submitted to DCMS and UNESCO.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/consultation-on-management-of-the-jurassic-coast-1-6203990

Glover Review of National Parks and AONBs – interim findings

Some quotes:

“… The message from all this work has been vigorous and clear. We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment.

Some of this failure comes from the fact that our protected landscapes have
not been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job we should now expect of them. I want to praise the commitment of those who work to protect our landscapes today. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen energy,
enthusiasm and examples of success.

Supporting schools, youth ranger schemes, farm clusters, joint working with
all sorts of organisations, tourism, planning and design, backing local
businesses, coping with the complexities of local and central government –
things like this happen every day, not much thanks is given for them and yet
much of it is done well, for relatively small sums.

But all this impressive effort is not achieving anything like as much as it could.

We need to reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949. We need our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty which look up and outwards to the nation they serve.

In essence, our review will ask not ‘what do protected landscapes need?’, but “what does the nation need from them today?’….

We think that AONBs should be strengthened, with increased funding, new purposes and a greater voice on development. We have been impressed by what they often achieve now through partnership working.

We believe there is a very strong case for increasing funding to AONBs. We will make proposals in our final review.

– We have been asked to give our view on the potential for new designations. We will set this out in our final report.”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/817608/landscapes-review-interim-findings-july2019.pdf

Government to allow Community Infrastructure Levy to fund big projects

Oooh … just in time for Cranbrook’s latest expansion plans! AND when councils all over the country are declaring a climate emergency and trying to avoid unsustainable projects. Catch 22 there for TiggerTories!

Or perhaps it will go to a new National Park – lol.

“Councils will be required to report on the agreements reached with housing developers to pay for infrastructure, under new rules laid in Parliament this week.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse claimed that “confusing and unnecessarily over-complicated” rules were being simplified, so that communities would know exactly how much developers were paying for infrastructure in their area.

Councils will have to set out how the money will be spent “enabling residents to see every step taken to secure their area is ready for new housing”.

The Government also claimed that the changes would make it faster for councils to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy in the first place.

Restrictions are to be eased to allow councils to fund single, larger infrastructure projects from the cash received from multiple developments, “giving greater freedom to deliver complex projects at pace”, it added.

The Minister of State said: “Communities deserve to know whether their council is fighting their corner with developers – getting more cash to local services so they can cope with the new homes built.

“The reforms not only ensure developers and councils don’t shirk their responsibilities, allowing residents to hold them to account – but also free up councillors to fund bigger and more complicated projects over the line.

“The certainty and less needless complexity will lead to quicker decisions.”

The regulations will be debated once parliamentary time allows.

The Government has also published its response to the views received in its technical consultation on developer contributions reform.”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/planning/401-planning-news/40736-councils-to-be-required-to-report-on-deals-with-housing-developers