Waldringfield Wildlife Group – LDF response

WWGletterOnLDFplans PDF format.

17 November 2009

Text prepared for the response to Suffolk Coastal District Council’s LDF plans for a new housing development East of Ipswich at Martlesham

Summary

Waldringfield Wildlife Group strongly opposes the increase in housing allocation on the Adastral Park site because of its close proximity to the Deben Estuary which is an internationally recognised and PROTECTED environmental site having SPA, SSI and Ramsar status and is within the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB. Pressure from increasing visitor numbers will increase wildlife disturbance and trampling. Run-off from roofs, tarmac and concrete will contaminate the water table and thus the streams that are tributaries of the river. Ramsar status means that even governments are obliged to maintain favourable conservation status.

No to 2000, preferably no to 1000.

Response

We strongly object to the increase in housing allocation to 2,000 homes on the Adastral Park site on the grounds of the negative impact on the internationally recognised environmental site that is the Deben Estuary. The original allocation was unacceptable to us and this revision simply doubles the issues; the housing will be denser, no space for areas of heathland to regenerate and the new residents will be even more likely to look for recreation in the close environment. Moreover the runoff from the site will naturally drain through streams and creeks to the Deben Estuary with resulting effects on the chemistry of this highly sensitive ecosystem.

The questionable premise that people walk, on average, 1km. from their homes (App. Ass. 6.2.35) brings Martlesham Creek within easy range at one side of the development. The premise is also undermined when, at a distance of only 2km. on footpaths, there is a beautiful riverside with a sandy beach and a pub to provide rest and refreshment, a circular walk along the river wall and a different route back mostly on footpaths. Furthermore, just over 1km. away on footpaths is the SSSI Newbourne Springs nature reserve, again with a pub a short distance away to act as a draw. The warden of Newbourne Springs already comments on the disturbance caused by some of the current visitors (App. Ass Appendix 6). Also in Appendix 6, the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths respondent states that even a 1% increase in visitor numbers would increase the harm done to the Deben SPA and the AONB.

The “low to moderate level of terrestrial recreational activity at present” (App. Ass 6. 2. 26) already results in considerable disturbance to feeding birds. Particularly noticeable is the frequent, noisy rising of Dark-bellied Brent Geese on winter weekends caused by walkers along the river wall. Increased human activity would result in even more disturbance for this creature, which is one factor that gives the Deben Estuary its Ramsar status. There are 7 other bird species that currently occur in the Deben Estuary at levels of national importance so contributing to the SPA status (R.I.S. 22 a survey dated 1996 – Black-tailed Godwit, (Common) Greenshank, Bean Goose, (Common) Shelduck, (Pied) Avocet, Spotted Redshank and Common Redshank). More recent surveys (Suffolk Birds and the Wetland Bird Survey) show a much wider range of species occurring at significant population levels, including Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Pintail and Little Grebe.

The Deben Estuary saltmarsh and inter-tidal mudflats display the most complete range of saltmarsh community types in Britain (The Annotated Ramsar List: UK dated 5/9/09). Nationally and internationally important flora and fauna are to be found in the creeks, streams and estuary. There are 7 species of nationally scarce flora (R.I.S. 21 dated 1996 – Althea officianalis, Bupleurum tenuissimum, Lepidium latifolium, Puccinellia fasciculata, Sarcocornia perennis, Suaeda vera and Zostera angustifolia), which are vulnerable to trampling by increased visitor numbers and also to changes in the chemistry of this subtly balanced ecosystem.

Ramsar status for the Deben Estuary is also due to the presence of Vertigo angustior found in Martlesham Creek. This small snail is on the EU Habitats and Species Directive at the highest grade and international governments are obliged to maintain favourable conservation status or fines will ensue. The Adastral site is on the 25m contour line and drainage will naturally occur into Martlesham Creek, Newbourne Springs, and through the Moon and Sixpence stream to the decoy on the edge of the Deben. The run-off from 2000 houses, and the tarmac and concrete associated with them, will gradually get through to the Deben and the delicate balance of chemicals required for the continued survival of the community which supports Vertigo angustior will be compromised.

Further disturbance on the banks of Martlesham Creek will result from the new sewage treatment works that will be required whether 1,000 or 2,000 houses are built. In sum, trampling and chemical contamination will adversely affect what is supposed to be a highly protected area.

Without doubt this proposal is environmentally unsustainable with respect to the need for wildlife protection and preservation of the Deben Estuary’s saltmarsh and mudflats.  We urge SCDC to look again at the plans for houses at Adastral Park and not to pass this scheme that will have such a damaging effect on an internationally important wildlife site.

Anne Maddison and Sally Redfern

On behalf of the Waldringfield Wildlife Group (39 members)

Cc:       Patricia O’Brien, County Councillor              Nick Collinson, Manager, SCHU, AONB

Veronica Falkoner, Councillor                        Trazar Astley-Reid, Deben Estuary Partnership

Ian Kay, Chairman, Waldringfield PC           Rt Hon. John Gummer MP

John Jackson, Planning & Conservation Officer, NE             www.noadastralnewtown.com

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