This major development will cause irreversible damage to the landscape and ecology of this stunning part of the publicly-owned National Heritage Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. This site supports wildlife with EU protection. It is a much valued space for recreation with unrestricted public access. There are other solutions and sites for
This is a major development of a new college, hotel, housing, employment sites and a through road on a sensitive landscape and wildlife site in the National Heritage Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. There are 2 national, cross-boundary walking routes through the site at Cinderford Northern Quarter.
Many acres of publicly-owned Statutory Forest will be transferred to the Forest of Dean District Council and the planning application for development made by the Homes and Communities Agency. This is likely to set an unwarranted national planning precedent for major development in other areas of the Forest of Dean, other publically owned Forests and other highly sensitive landscape and wildlife areas throughout the UK.
· National Public Forests should not be used as cheap building land for major development. The majority of the development site is part of the Premier Heritage Forest of Dean, owned by the nation and the site should remain publically owned as recommended by the Independent Panel Report on Forestry wholly accepted by the Government.
· Over 1,300 species have been recorded there, the breeding and feeding grounds for many EU and Nationally protected species. There is a Lesser Horseshoe Bat maternity roost vital to the maintenance of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The site also has 13 other different species of bat, Great Crested Newts, Dormouse, other BAP species of newts and reptiles, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, notable and red data book species of birds including the iconic Turtle Dove and Hawfinch. This site should never have been allocated for development because of its high ecological value supported by a tightly knit interdependent ecosystem. The soils, plants
and invertebrates underpin the food supply for other species’ survival. With the advent of Climate Change it is contrary to Government Policy not to protect such habitats.
· The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat SAC is one of the most important areas in the UK for lesser horseshoe bats containing 26% of the national population and is cross boundary with Wales. Yet it is to be subjected to the experimental manoeuvre of attempting to relocate a large maternity roost, vital to the maintenance of the SAC and to demolish an existing maternity roost.
· Unrestricted public access over the site will be lost. The quiet enjoyment of recreation, wildlife and landscape experienced by local residents and visitors will be drastically degraded into a busy noisy urban polluting environment, visible from vista viewpoints outside the site.
· This is not Sustainable Development. By the National Indices of Deprivation which uses the 20% percentile to indicate deprivation, the Forest of Dean and Cinderford is not a deprived area. Alternative solutions have not been fully explored such as alternative sites for the different
elements of this major development. The biodiversity of this site could significantly contribute to the economy of the Public Forest Estate and the economy of the District as a resource for ecotourism (as illustrated by the economic generation achieved by the Peregrine Falcons for
the Wye Valley) and as an educational resource for study and research which could attract EU funding.
· This is not good planning, is not value for money for the taxpayer. The site is designated by the Coal Authority as a “High Risk Area” The creation of a new college building, hotel and housing is highly inadvisable in an area riddled with mine shafts, post open cast mining landfill
and part flood zone. There is significant risk of massive overspending of taxpayers' money.
· The proposal is of more than local importance because it gives rise to substantial effects beyond the immediate locality, cross-boundary and national controversy, and conflicts with national policies on important matters.