Mockery of mitigation

Further to your article (Friday July 13), the recent announcement by Government regarding the increase in air traffic into Gatwick and Heathrow appears to make a mockery of the requirements for mitigation that Wealden are struggling to achieve in the 7km exclusion zone of Ashdown Forest and its surrounds.

I recently attended an informal planning enquiry at Wealden held in front of a Government Inspector at which the planning officers still do not know what they are trying to achieve and after three months (they were notified in April) they are still no nearer a solution.

Their initial indication by letter to agents was that this would take about three months to sort out, they are now talking about a further six months for the required mitigation for recreation and nitrogen to be in place which in effect means there will be no new development approved in the north of the region for 12 months at a time when the country requires investment and jobs.

It appears that the law of the land, which I understand is a dictat from Europe which only considers the damage caused to the Ashdown Forest and its wildlife and plants by human intervention and road traffic.

It does not consider the effects of the aircraft routes over the forest or the dangers of allowing the population of deer and rabbits to increase unchecked causing imbalance in the species, particularly those that might eat the special plants. These areas are not isolated and have been affected and adapted throughout the years to the changes that have occurred. Why should they not be able to adapt now. The best protection that could be given would be to prevent the dumping of excess fuel etc from the planes on their approach to both Gatwick and Heathrow.

At present we are being informed that no development can take place in the Ashdown Forest or within 7km of it as well as restrictions on the High Weald AONB, the Southdowns National Park and Pevensey Level SSSI.

The requirement is for mitigation (or moving it somewhere else) of the perceived requirement for recreation (dog walking and general visits) and the deposits of nitrogen from vehicular traffic. The local authority must identify specific projects providing this and then set a level of fee appropriate. This should not take that long to sort out and surely it is the principle that rather than specifics that need to be in place otherwise every time one project is complete there could be another embargo until the next project is in place and has received the relevant planning permission (that is if it can be approved without the relevant mitigation in place).

With regard to the Buxted Hall application I would have thought that it, by its very nature, would be mitigation for local recreational facilities and would also prevent travel by locals further afield for functions and therefore mitigate the travel (nitrogen) in the area – perhaps the applicants should pay a sum towards the construction of the hall in mitigation.

I believe that this will take a few more months to sort out particularly as the council have now retired from Crowborough to be at the heart of the district in Hailsham.

Michael P Pollington, Uckfield