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Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

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default Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

Post by Adrian on 8th August 2010, 12:21 pm


Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development into our green spaces

Piece by piece is a new Guardian campaign to preserve the beauty and peace of all nature – from gardens to ancient forests – in the UK

Thousands of wildlife habitats, including refuges for some of the country's rarest species and sites recognised worldwide for their importance to nature are under threat from development every year.The scale of the problem – from small garden-grabs to the construction of major housing estates, ports and roads – is revealed as the Guardian today launches a project called Piece by piece, to expose the creeping threat to Britain's natural world.Jonathon Porritt, one of the UK's most influential environmental experts, said Piece by piece, a dedicated website that will collect evidence of developments and challenges to these , was "desperately" needed. "If it's been badly needed over the last few years, I think that need is likely to become absolutely desperate over the next few years," said Porritt, former head of both Friends of the Earth and the government's Sustainable Development Commission.

"The [government] is intent on setting aside some of the restrictions and constraints in the current planning process in a way that will promote local decision-making at the expense of environmental safeguards. I think we're just going to slide back to pretty crude nimbyism.

"Piece by piece has also been backed by leading conservation groups and has cross-party political support.Hilary Benn, Labour shadow environment secretary, said: "Nature nurtures our souls and lifts our spirits. But it also sustains us and our economy – and it is for this reason that we take it for granted at our peril."

Caroline Spelman, the Conservative secretary of state for the environment, said: "Our natural environment needs help. Piecemeal degradation has eroded many gains made and reversing the decline of our biodiversity is one of my Department's main priorities."Figures for the national threat posed by development to open spaces are hard to collect.

But several campaign groups have provided the Guardian with information that illustrates the scale of the problem.The Wildlife Trusts Federation, which has the most comprehensive overview, last year asked for 4,900 projects to be changed or stopped. These were the most damaging schemes it selected after reviewing 83,000 planning applications. Before the recession, those annual figures were higher, usually more than 5,000 objections from over 90,000 applications.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which concentrates on only the most nationally and internationally important sites for birds, was fighting 1,600 developments last year, including more than 700 added during 2009.Focusing only on the remnants of Britain's centuries-old ancient woodland, dubbed "Britain's rainforests" for their rich mix of plants and animals, the Woodland Trust currently has 180 sites under threat from building projects. In the last decade it has fought to protect 800 sites comprising up to 100sq miles – an area the size of Birmingham. Yesterday the government published figures showing one in seven new homes were being built on "residential" land – mostly gardens.

Garden Organic, which has campaigned to protect these small patches of land that sustain wildlife in cities and provide vital corridors for species to reach the countryside, calculates that from 2006-2016, a quarter of a million gardens will be concreted and bricked over.The government has announced it wants to crack down on "garden grabbing" by ending the practice of classifying gardens as easier-to-develop brownfield land, but Garden Organic chief executive Myles Bemner said gardens and other patches of urban and suburban land were far from safe: "The demand … [for] new homes is not going to go away," he said.WWF, which campaigns more on wider issues than individual projects, said it is concerned about the indirect impacts of developments on biodiversity, for example when projects take water from local streams and rivers, or add to pollution problems.

In one case in the UK, the charity has demonstrated a direct link between building new homes and the drying-out of stretches of rare chalk streams, rich with trout, kingfishers and otters, which flowed regularly for centuries, with the exception of major droughts.Separately, there is growing evidence of the increasing loss of ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity, and a growing recognition of their importance to all aspects of human life, from naturally cleaning air and water, to providing food, clothes, building materials, medicines or enjoyment.Natural England, the government countryside agency, this year reported more than two species a year in England are becoming extinct, and hundreds more are at risk of disappearing.

The agency lists development as the second biggest cause of loss, after damage caused by vast monoculture farms and the widespread use of chemicals.Globally, scientists estimate that the rate of extinction is 100-1,000 times that before humans, and blame intensification of farming and development for the majority of losses.
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default Re: Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

Post by Chilli-head on 9th August 2010, 11:24 am

First blow to this idea: Councils in England offered new homes bonus"

"And a better system is to get people actually saying there's something
in it for our area - we can have a new swimming pool, or town centre,
or something that we want in our area if we allow some house building
to go ahead. That rebalances the argument and we believe they will
build more homes".

But what about those people who want their area to remain a rural village or small town with some contryside around it ? I bought a home in a small town, which backed onto a paddock. The paddock has been built on. My allotment site, once on the edge of farmland, is being surrrounded by building sites. If I wanted to live in the city, I would have bought a house there ! But acccording to planning guidelines, I am "not materially affected". Whether I am emotionally or spiritually affected seems not to matter
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default Re: Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

Post by Compostwoman on 9th August 2010, 12:34 pm

But emotions and spirituality don't count for anything on a balance sheet.........which is all that seems to matter to these people.


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default Re: Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

Post by Guest on 9th August 2010, 11:19 pm

Arrrggghhh !!!!
I'm afraid my solution is too drastic for most folk !!!


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default Re: Piece by piece: Join the fight to halt the sprawl of development

Post by Compostwoman on 9th August 2010, 11:44 pm

Probably not for me...


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