Wiggonholt charity discusses issues facing the Downs

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As the Wiggonholt Association held its annual meeting last week, the director spoke out about ‘misplaced’ developments, sand extraction and pollution in the Downs.

The Association held its fifth annual general meeting in Old School, Rackham on April 9, chaired by director Peter Flatter who highlighted some of the major issues currently affecting the South Downs National Park.

He said: “From an environmentalist’s point of view, we live in a strange and rather frightening world.

“Closer to home, the relaxed planning system embodies a presumption in favour of development, providing it is ‘sustainable’ - a vague proviso that is open to random interpretation and inevitably leads to misplaced permissions.

“And whilst the urgent need for more housing sees the steady disappearance of greenfield land and rural settings, large parts of our towns and cities are in decay and the real emphasis should be on urban regeneration.

“Closer still, the urge to extract more sand puts the South Downs National Park under pressure, a pressure that would increase substantially if a second runway at Gatwick is given the go-ahead.

“And on our doorstep, pollution in Storrington is peaking at 40 per cent above permitted limits, whilst the Highway Agency sees no added traffic pollution problem with the trebling of the size of Waitrose’s store.”

The director commented on a planning proposal to build two homes on Greatham’s conservation site, which has seen strong opposition from residents.

“We come to the ancient hamlet of Greatham, where a proposed development, if permitted, would be completely out of character with its surroundings and we would be asking why the South Downs National Park has been created in the first place.”

Mr Flatter also gave an overview of activity covering the last 12 months including the opening of the telephone kiosk in North Stoke as an information booth.

A new and improved website can be found at www.wiggonholt.org