Celebrities urge support for march against Ford eco-town
Celebrities Ben Fogle and Duncan Goodhew are urging people to support a march and rally organised by local campaign group Communities Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE). CAFE have announced that the event will take place on Saturday 7th June at 10am.
The march has been organised in response to the proposal to build at least 5,000 houses on greenfield land at Ford, a move which has caused an outcry in the local community. The event will be attended by local residents of Ford, Yapton, Climping, Arundel and other villages and towns close to the site.
The march will start and finish on Yapton Village Green. The route will take protesters, carrying posters and banners, along public footpaths and part of Ford Lane.
Celebrities attending the march will include TV presenter Ben Fogle, whose family home is at Ford. Campaigners, celebrities and local MPs Nick Herbert and Nick Gibb will speak at the rally on Yapton Village Green before the march sets off.
CAFE Co-Chairman and Yapton resident Terry Knott commented: "It's not that we disagree with the concept of affordable and eco-friendly housing, far from it. It's just that there are so many reasons why such a development should not be sited here; and virtually no arguments in favour of doing so.
"There is a local development plan, involving thousands of houses already, but these are based on natural progression and using the geography of the county to best effect, based on a thousand years of history. We really don't need civil servants in London, telling us where to build our houses, or developers out for a quick profit, on the shirt-tails of a rushed and half-baked government initiative."
Bilsham resident and CAFE campaigner Deborah Robinson commented: "Once again the Government is targeting rural communities by denying us the right to respond to their flawed and unsustainable ‘eco' planning policy. The protest march is a chance for everyone to make their voices heard and we urge everyone who really cares about the local environment and what we leave to future generations to join us."
Ford resident Dr Bruce Fogle and his son, TV presenter Ben Fogle, commented: "If you think it's wrong to sacrifice forever our ability to grow our own food in favour of urban development, on some of the most productive arable countryside in the UK, join us on the 7th June."
Former Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew commented: "Ford eco-town will engulf the rural villages of Ford, Clymping and Yapton and 306 hectares of grade 1 farmland. The airfield is only a small fraction of the site and far from brownfield.
"From Yapton, where I grew up, you look north across rich open farmland to beautiful and historic Arundel and the South Downs. More farmland stretches south, right to the edge of Clymping Beach on the English Channel and east to the River Arun where it meanders to the sea.
"Massive development to this beautiful, sensitive and unique part of Sussex's coastal plain would not just be detrimental to the character of this coastal river plain; it would be an irreversible loss to the future of agriculture in the region."
Bognor Regis & Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb commented: "We need to show Caroline Flint the strength of opinion in this area against building 5,000 houses in our beautiful countryside. If everyone in the area joins the march on the 7th of June it will send a very clear message to the Government that we want to keep the countryside between Arundel and Littlehampton open, natural and free from development."
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert commented: "I hope that as many people as possible will support the march on 7th June. It is absolutely vital that we make our views known and demonstrate our support for the campaign."
Mr Herbert added: "I am strongly opposed to the eco-town - it's badly flawed and will destroy a valuable greenfield site. It will place an even greater strain on local services and infrastructure and undermine the local planning system. We must do everything we can to keep Ford off the final shortlist."
Notes for Editors
1. Limited parking will be available near Yapton Village Green.
2. The march will take approximately 50 minutes to complete. Protesters are advised to wear appropriate footwear.
3. For the website of CAFE, visit http://www.nofordecotown.com/
4. Ben Fogle is best known for his appearance on the BBC's Castaway 2000 series. He has since presented numerous programmes including the BBC's Animal Park, Countryfile, Wild in Africa, Crufts, One Man and His Dog, Holiday and Cash in the Attic.