Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society
Position Statement regarding Cinderford Northern Quarter Development
Having discussed all aspects of the Cinderford Northern Quarter (CNQ) Development and the Cinderford Regeneration Environmental Forum at the Executive Committee Meeting on 27th November 2013, the Executive Committee of the Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society (GNS) has concluded that the Society’s standpoint and course of action should be as follows:-
The Society does not in any way support or condone the CNQ development as proposed and very much regrets the effect that the development is likely to have on the wildlife and habitats across and in the immediate vicinity of the development area.
The Society believes that whilst the investment and potential improvement for the economy and employment prospects is warranted and welcome in the Forest of Dean, especially in the current economic climate, the development as proposed is in the wrong location and would be far better sited elsewhere for a variety of reasons, not least the conservation of the species and habitats in the area.
The Society believes that if protest against the Area Action Plan fails, and no engagement in the mitigation process takes place, any future planning applications within the Area Action Plan framework are likely to be approved with little or no change.
The Society believes the best means for influencing planning and development decisions will be via the Cinderford Regeneration Environmental Forum. For that reason, the Society will participate in the Forum and promote the interests of wildlife within that arena as best it can, alongside the representatives of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) and other organizations.
The Society notes the six identified “Purposes” within the remit of the Forum and will endeavour to ensure that these are properly applied in the interests of wildlife. (N.B. a copy of the “Role & Remit” draft is attached below for information).
The Society believes that the presence of Colin Studholme of GWT as vice-chair of the Forum and of Roger Mortlock of GWT on the Regeneration Board offers the opportunity to ensure that the interests of wildlife and habitats are properly represented and considered and that the deliberations of both groups, where relevant to wildlife, will be recorded and reported.
Andrew Bluett will represent GNS on the Environmental Forum and will take notes and report back to the GNS Executive Committee on the proceedings.
The Society intends to organize and carry out a series of field meetings and visits to the CNQ site and surrounding area with the intention of monitoring the situation and carrying out of further recording of wildlife before works commence, during and after the works are complete.
The Society, through the Environmental Forum, will attempt to ensure that any mitigation measures considered or proposed are the best that can be achieved in the interests of species and habitats, and will endeavour to monitor the results of the mitigation measures in progress and after completion.
The Society is aware of the belief that the Forum and its output could be misused to represent the interests of the Forest of Dean District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Developers in a positive light and has discussed this with GWT.
GWT has made clear that if it believes this to be the case it will if necessary disengage from both the Forum and Regeneration Board; GNS similarly reserves the right to do so and to make public its reasons for doing so, both to the GNS membership and the wider public.
Whilst GNS as a body is not a campaigning organization, its members, including those on the Executive Committee, are not in any way precluded or discouraged from legitimate protest against the CNQ Development through the planning process or by any other means they choose to exercise.
Finally, GNS will endeavour to widen the development debate if the opportunity arises in an effort to have Forest of Dean District Council more carefully consider species and habitats wherever developments are proposed within the constituency and to consult with wildlife interest groups both earlier and in more detail during the planning process in the hope that this situation will be less likely to arise in future.
Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society
1st December 2013