MP speaks out against development in National Park
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has spoken out against major development proposals in the South Downs National Park, arguing that "the whole point of designating the South Downs as a national park was to protect them."
In an interview in the summer edition of the Downsman, the magazine of the South Downs Society, Mr Herbert warned about the impact of proposed large scale solar farms, fracking, and recreational developments that would "transform natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park".
But the MP said that some development should be allowed, arguing that opposition to the Arundel bypass, for instance, was "mistaken", because it would prevent damage from traffic rat-running through the National Park.
Mr Herbert warned that the drive for renewable energy had led to a surge of applications for large-scale solar farms which he argued "can really spoil the landscape." He welcomed the Government's measures to give communities local control over wind farms and to end subsidies for new ones.
The MP also welcomed the Government's ban on fracking in national parks, saying that his “... principal concern has been about the casual industrialisation of the landscape though the surface activity of drilling, for instance through the lorry movements involved.” He pointed out that any lateral wells drilled below the surface of national parks would be at "enormous depths" of around 1.5 kilometres, and that "what matters then is that the activity is strictly regulated".
Mr Herbert repeated his opposition to the proposals by Forest Enterprise to build a large number of holiday lodges in Houghton Forest in the National Park: “These might provide recreation, but it’s a completely inappropriate development which will transform this natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park.”
The MP welcomed projects to improve walking and cycling in the Downs, saying “I hope that we’ll see a lot more of this kind of thing which will help to promote access to the Park", and said that he was "very supportive of children getting out of the classrooms and their boots muddy so that they can see the real countryside and learn about it.”
Defending proposals for an Arundel bypass, Mr Herbert said: “I think the South Downs and its villages will benefit from the upgrade and the bypass .... Much of the A27 already runs through the National Park, including at Arundel. A beautiful bridge over the Arun could enhance the landscape. We’ve done that kind of thing historically, and the French do it now.”
Mr Herbert's Arundel and South Downs constituency covers some 250 square miles, half of which is in the South Downs National Park. He says: “I’m proud to represent such a special constituency and I’m determined to protect it. I think those of us with current responsibility for this wonderful area have a duty to protect it for future generations.”
But the MP declined to criticise budget cuts to the South Downs National Park Authority, arguing that savings had to be made, and that the Authority should spend public money wisely. He pointed out that "in covering such a large area the success of the National Park Authority was always going to be as an enabler and partner rather than a body which could possibly fund everything itself".
1. To read The Downsman interview in full see http://www.southdownssociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/the-downsman-july-2015-issue-190.pdf.
2. To read Nick’s news release ‘Ugly solar farms must not damage our beautiful West Sussex countryside’ see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/626/nick-herbert-ugly-solar-farms-must-not-damage-beautiful-west-sussex-countryside.
3. To read Nick’s news release ‘Government emphasises landscape protection in planning decisions’ see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/618/government-emphasises-landscape-protection-in-planning-decisions.