Large-scale development in the South Downs could transform it into a ‘suburban-style theme park’ - according to the area’s MP.
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has spoken out against major schemes planned in the South Downs National Park, arguing that ‘the whole point of designating the South Downs as a national park was to protect them’.
In an interview in the summer edition of the Downsman, the South Downs Society’s magazine, he warned about the impact of proposed large scale solar farms, fracking, and recreational developments that would ‘transform natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park’.
But the MP said that some development should be allowed, arguing that opposition to the Arundel bypass was ‘mistaken’ because it would prevent damage from traffic rat-running through the national park.
Mr Herbert also warned that the drive for renewable energy had led to a surge of applications for large-scale solar farms which he argued ‘can really spoil the landscape’.
He welcomed the Government’s measures to give communities local control over wind farms and to end subsidies for new ones.
The MP also welcomed the Government’s ban on fracking in national parks, saying that his ‘principal concern has been about the casual industrialisation of the landscape though the surface activity of drilling, for instance through the lorry movements involved’.
He pointed out that any lateral wells drilled below the surface of national parks would be at ‘enormous depths’ of around 1.5 kilometres, and that ‘what matters then is that the activity is strictly regulated’.
Mr Herbert repeated his opposition to the proposals to build holiday lodges in Houghton Forest in the national park.
He explained: “These might provide recreation, but it’s a completely inappropriate development which will transform this natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park.”
The MP welcomed projects to improve walking and cycling in the Downs, and added: “I hope that we’ll see a lot more of this kind of thing which will help to promote access to the park.”
He argued that the South Downs and its villages would benefit from an Arundel bypass as much of the A27 already runs through the national park, and felt a bridge over the Arun could ‘enhance the landscape’.
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