Dear Mr. Shuker
RE : PROPOSED A120 BETWEEN BRAINTREE AND MARKS TEY
I am writing as a
resident of Coggeshall. I have read with great interest your booklet. “A120
Braintree to Marks Tey Improvement.” So I am enquiring how a proposed plan to
cut through so much of our farm land, destroying the livelihood of our rural
communities, to build yet one more road, could in any way be called a
Government’s national policies, Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable
Development in Rural Areas sets out to protect the best and most versatile
agricultural land. The policies of the East of England Regional Assembly (see
East of England Plan Chapter 9 environmental resources) state that the region
has one of the highest concentrations of high quality agricultural land in the
country and that this land should be protected from irreversible damage. The
Braintree District Local Plan states:
District Local Plan; Adopted February 1995 67
The countryside in Braintree District is of high
environmental quality with areas of high quality agricultural land and of special
landscape value, together with sites of special scientific interest, and areas of nature
conservation importance, trees and woodlands, and protected lanes. Even where the
countryside lacks particular quality it is important to protect it and strive to enhance
it for its own sake. Certain areas of countryside around
settlements are particularly vulnerable and Green Wedges have been identified around
Braintree and Witham, between Sturmer and Haverhill, and between Kelvedon and Feering
to prevent the coalescence of the towns with their surrounding villages and to
maintain strategic gaps between settlements.
Rural Policy BDP
57 (Paras 7.1, 7.2 and 15.1)
the rural areas of Braintree District priority will be given to the protection
of the environment and agricultural land.
District Local Plan; Adopted February 1995 68
It is considered important to protect and enhance all those
features which contribute to the attractiveness of the countryside and
policies BDP 57 to 76 will be applied as appropriate.
The Rural Areas Braintree
District Local Plan; Adopted February 1995 163
Much of Braintree District is rural. It is an essential part
of the strategy for the District to protect the countryside, whilst at the same
time maintaining the economic and social viability of villages within it. Policies
are therefore included in this Plan which seek:-
- to prevent unnecessary development in the
countryside (BDP 57, 58A, and 59)
- to limit the growth of villages (BDP 58A)
- to achieve a high quality of development in
villages (BDP 17)
- to provide for local housing needs (BDP 11)
- to provide for local employment (BDP 38)
- to provide for tourism and recreational development
(BDP 58A and 101)
Reference should also be made to the housing
policies in Chapter 4 and the countryside policies in Chapter 7.
Agency is going against these policies with their Proposed Southern Route which
basically says that putting the road through arable farmland areas is fine as
this is a cheaper option. The following statement from the Public Consultation
document is simply wrong.
The proposal would not directly affect
any designated areas of environmental interest and the majority of the land
taken would be from arable farmland areas, with generally low ecological value.
How does this
statement fit with all the planning policies trying to protect the ‘high
quality agricultural land?’ The National Farmers’ Union describes East Anglia
as Britain’s breadbasket. Presumably, the Highways Agency expects to be able to
overcome opposition from a limited number of farmers and sell their proposal as
the best because it is the cheapest. The environmental cost is incalculable and
the damage to the countryside will be irreversible.
I believe, if the
Braintree bypass is a good guide to what follows a road building scheme, it
will not be long before we see our unspoilt countryside covered with yet more
housing developments. Therefore, instead of reducing the congestion and delays,
it will add to both more houses being built and lead to more cars adding to
greenhouse gas emissions.
The only way to
help to reduce congestion on our roads is by improving public transport and not
by covering more of our landscape with concrete. As this road so called
improvement scheme seems to be in part about a fast road link to Stanstead
airport, would it not be a better idea to run the old Braintree railway line to
the airport helping to take cars off the roads? At the moment for many people
the only way to travel is sadly by car, making many pensioners prisoners in the
villages they live in.
R. J. Lambert.