LETTER: Greenfield build not sustainable

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Building on greenfield sites is NOT ‘sustainable’. The online Oxford Dictionary’s definition is ‘Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources’. It means leaving the natural environment in as good a condition as we have now, for future generations to live in and enjoy.

Building on current agricultural land and green spaces (such as the North Horsham development) is NOT sustainable. It is a short term fix to profitably house a few more of the increasing population.

In your special report on 26th Feb, the ‘before and after’ pictures of the North Horsham development show graphically how this word is being abused by the developers.

What is now over 90 per cent agricultural land will become 0 per cent. I counted 26-plus fields which will be no more. Around each field are hedgerows and trees, most of which will be lost. These are essential homes for a variety of wildlife.

So where will they go once the green space is reduced to around five per cent of the area (six on the picture), with the rest becoming buildings and hard standing. The developer’s assertion that 40 per cent of the land will remain undeveloped is laughable.

Each field that is built on is:

One field fewer on which we can grow food. Climate change means things will get less favourable for current intensive agriculture, and we’ll need a lot more land on which to grow our food, if we are not to rely on imports (food security).

One field fewer on which soft ground will soak up the rainfall, to replenish the ground water, on which we depend for our household water, and to ease flood risk locally and downstream (water security).

One field fewer that is a varied habitat of open land, hedges and trees, in which the web of wildlife can thrive, as well as countryside that we can all enjoy (bio-diversity security).

As well as a home each person needs access to water, food, fresh air and green surroundings, all provided by the biological systems of nature. So we should abuse it less and respect it more.

This is the sustainable development I would like to see addressed by the developers and politicians:

Retain all agricultural land in a way that it can, if necessary, be reverted to growing food.

Don’t build on flood plains, and reduce hard surfaces to essential areas only.

Reduce the human ecological footprint, by building upwards a few floors in current settlements, rather than sideways across the countryside. This would allow more land to absorb the rain, and more green space for wildlife to thrive and us to enjoy.

Stabilise the population long term by encouraging smaller families, and managing immigration better.

The upcoming election gives us a chance to find out what the next bunch of politicians will do about these big issues.


Ghyll Crescent, Horsham