Following the publication of the recent draft of ‘Storrington Air Quality Action Plan’, it is unfortunately the case that Horsham District Council has missed another opportunity for a truly sustainable solution.
On the Draft Action plan, page 24 (9.3 third paragraph) there is mention of ‘presumption in favour of development’. This is wrong – it should be ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
This is according to the national planning policy framework, the NPPF. It is sustainability that is intrinsic, not development!
Unfortunately without sustainable development, in the long term there will be no economy.
It is too easy to forget that we are totally reliant on our habitat, just as any other species and that our survival depends on its health and ability to continue producing clean water, clean air, fertile and productive soil, and natural goods such a timber, as a few examples.
Without this sustainable environment, any short term gains in economy are likely to be dwarfed in the long term by long term environmental damage and climate change, such as widespread flooding – which we are particularly susceptible to in parts of our county. This will be exacerbated by sea level rise of up to 1m by the turn of the century as predicted by the internationally respected Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
The predicted outcomes of climate change - with storm surges, flooding and droughts making the headlines more frequently - mean we should be constantly looking to ensure that all areas of development go hand in hand with sustainability. We are aware that we need to build houses, however there is no excuse to rubber stamp unsustainable developments.
We already have the technology and knowledge to build homes with a low carbon footprint, that are self sustaining and harness green energy solutions. This includes the clever incorporation of existing mature trees plus planting new native trees that will not only increase biodiversity, but provide protection from cold winter frosts and provide a cooling shade in summer.
However, we choose to accept minimum requirements of building regulations, failing to take the opportunity to raise standards .
The solution is to genuinely increase biodiversity with a focus on strategic tree planting in particularly vulnerable areas and suitable pockets throughout the county.
Starting in Storrington, if a carefully managed tree planting scheme were encouraged, this could have a trifold effect of dispersing pollution, trapping dust, ash and pollen, controlling floods and run off and reducing noise levels.
Only too often when houses are built, it is more convenient to mow down ancient and mature trees forgetting that they offer far more than their majestic beauty and that they alone can be a key habitat for nearly 300 different species.
Every development should be carefully considered as a sustainability opportunity, however, it seems the case that this is overlooked time and time again.
Time to take sustainability seriously HDC.
For and on behalf of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Horsham and Crawley Branch, Guyhurst Spinney, Thakeham