West Sussex Gazette

Environmen­t is at a tipping point – we must act now In week three of our campaign save our green spaces from housing, Save Our South Coast Alliance outlines the scale of the problem

- Guest comment by SOSCA (Save Our South Coast Alliance) ws.letters@jpimedia.co.uk

Reducing unsustaina­ble housing quotas for West Sussex is the only way for Boris Johnson to make good his Conservati­ve Party Conference pledge to stop building on our green fields.

We cannot wait until the Prime Minister’s promises are written into legislatio­n. But even if that happens, it will be too late.

As West Sussex councils struggle to prepare plans for unrealisti­c housing numbers, applicatio­ns to concrete over more and more of our countrysid­e are multiplyin­g, threatenin­g our environmen­t and our economy.

Worse still, few of these new homes will be affordable for local people.

West Sussex is blessed with being in Britain’s fifth largest national park, preventing largescale housing on much of our high ground.

But this means our precious, low-lying coastal plain is now being inundated with housing applicatio­ns.

The Prime Minister need only look at a map to understand the threat.

The West Sussex coastal plain contains some of the UK’s highest quality farmland – Grade I and II – and there is very little of that left in the South East of England. Just as we are being urged to buy more British food we are losing our most productive farmland.

Our coastal plain is also home to several internatio­nally designated wetlands. Indeed, Sussex’s Medmerry wetland is being showcased at the upcoming COP26 conference as an example of how wetlands can help increase our resilience to climate change.

Wetland is our planet’s, – and country’s – most effective ecosystem for absorbing CO2 but also the fastest disappeari­ng.

Sussex’s important wetlands need room to expand and connect to one another if the species which depend on them are to survive sea level rise.

The stunning countrysid­e of the coastal plain is also crucial for our local economy. Green tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing tourism sectors.

Tourism has always been a key industry for coastal Sussex and the potential for our county to become one of the UK’s premier green tourism destinatio­ns is huge – but not if we lose the natural environmen­t people stay here for.

There is also another looming crisis that impacts all of us every day. Our infrastruc­ture cannot accommodat­e the scale of housing now overwhelmi­ng West Sussex.

Many homeowners are dealingwit­hdeplorabl­edrainage and sewage problems and our coastal waters are being so badly polluted with storm discharges that beaches across the South East are being regularly closed. Climate change will increase flooding and drainage issues.

Growing congestion on the A27, the only east/west arterial road in the southeast of England, is causing dangerous rat running through our towns, villages, coastal countrysid­e and the South Downs National Park.

More traffic through residentia­l areas pollutes the air we breathe and makes it increasing­ly difficult for us to walk or cycle in our own communitie­s.

While we could write about all these issues in detail, and we will in future issues, we have one important message for our Prime Minister on the eve of COP26 – our environmen­t is at a tipping point and we urge you to act – not just talk - before it is too late.

From next week, the West Sussex Gazette’s campaign to hold Boris Johnson to his pledge not to build on our green fields will focus on some of the county’s under-threat green spaces. We thank you for your letters about the campaign so far and we invite you to continue sharing your views. Write to us at ws.letters@ jpimedia.co.uk – and via the postal address on page 8.

For more informatio­n about SOSCA and its work to date, visit its website at www. westsussex­today.co.uk

 ?? ?? Medmerry. Picture: Carolyn Cobbold
Medmerry. Picture: Carolyn Cobbold
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom