Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fineshade Wood update...

Hello again everyone

If you were one of the 123 objectors to this planning application you will have had a letter saying that the application is due to be discussed by East Northants Council's (ENC) Development Control Committee on Wednesday 26th November.  ENC's Planning Officer is recommending that permission is granted.

Legal action on wildlife issues
For a third time the Planning Officer issued a Screening Opinion declaring that this is not worthy of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA - a set of procedures that should be carried out with all major planning applications where there will be significant adverse effects on biodiversity.)  The full EIA procedures take time - up to a year - and Forest Holidays and their financial backers are in a hurry and always try to avoid using them. But even their piecemeal surveys have revealed many protected, rare and regionally important species.

Therefore a group of Fineshade Residents took legal advice from lawyers specialising in environmental law. This resulted in a formal request to the National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU, effectively the Secretary of State). We have requested a Screening Directive which may well overturn the council's Screening Opinion and force an EIA. The lawyers believe we have a very strong case. The council have agreed to delay granting actual approval of the application until that ruling comes through.

Lobbying Councillors 

Because the matter is still coming to the Committee on 26 November we feel it is very important for individual Councillors to know at first hand just how strong is the opposition to Forest Holidays' proposals. Could you therefore help to lobby the 17 representatives who will be the ultimate judges of what happens at Fineshade? The attached document contains individual's names and full contact details (all these details are publicly available on the ENC website.)  We think that many of these Councillors will not have read all (or any!) of the objections. On the other hand, they have had a glossy special presentation by Forest Holidays - the planning system really is stacked in favour of the developer. 

If you live in East Northants you may know some of the Coucillors, or have friends who do. If you live further away there is no reason why you shouldn't simply send them your previous objection and ask them to read it carefully. Could you send your objection to some or all of them individually, perhaps by post or by email?  We think some councillors don't really "do" email, and a letter arriving on their doormat could be very powerful. 

We think the road issues really need pushing now. Councillors could, for example, make a planning condition that there should be no development work until the access road and the dangerous A43 junction is upgraded. Could you send them pictures of traffic on the access road? (We can send you a selection).   Some will never have been to Fineshade at all, so could you phone any of them to tell them why you value Fineshade so much? Ask them if they have ever seen the traffic during a busy summer weekend. We are convinced that personal contact like this could be very useful indeed.

Attending the meeting

If you live locally could you come to the Council Chamber in Thrapston for 7pm on Wednesday 26th November?  We expect that Forest Holidays, a representative of the Parish Council and one objector will each be allowed to speak for 3 minutes. A large supportive presence in the public gallery will be most helpful.

Thank you very much indeed for your support so far and we really hope you'll be able to join us in a final push during the coming 9 days.

Barrie and Tricia Galpin
On behalf of Fineshade Residents

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