Friday, 20 November 2009

Environmental Disaster

Environmental disaster

Salford City Council continues with its strategy to blight the lives of its residents with plans to build warehouses on 98 acres of Green Belt land to the west of the A57 between Irlam and Peel Green. This will involve the loss of top grade farming land and likely closure of Boysnope Golf Course.

This proposal comes after recent planning decisions which will lead to the loss of over 200 acres of open space to the East of the A57 to accommodate:

- a waste dump, with specific loss of tree habitat adjacent to Boysnope Wharf

- a port which will handle 300,000 containers a year

- a rail freight terminal

- rugby stadium and related commercial developments

- rail and road infrastructure to service these facilities

Don't be fooled by the 'green credentials' of the Port. Shipping is about to ovetake air transport as a contributor to green house gases. Unlike road and air travel, shipping has not been subject to the same stringent environmental regulation, and is highly polluting (The Independent, 2007). Locally the Port development alone will lead to an additonal 1500 traffic movements at peak times, contributing further to increasing emission, especially as this route is already congested (Salford City Council). As these developments take place, developers Peel Holdings will also begin to lobby strongly for an upgrade of Barton Airport as Manchester's second airport, which in the long term will wipe out reduction in CO2 resulting from the transfer of freight from road to rail/ship.

In addition to the loss of green belt, other parts of the Barton and Chat Moss will be compromised by the construction of a rail freight spur to connect the port to the Liverpool-Manchester railway. This line will run adjacent to housing and across the safety zone currently used by aircraft at Barton.

In short, the combination of these development will be an environmental disaster.

What does this mean for the local community?

The economic argument is fairly clear. These developments will attract around £100m of private investment and create around 2000 jobs, if the estimates prove true.

However, the quality of these jobs is open to question. They will involve mainly low-grade warehouse work. The employment created is small relative to the total size of the development, with relatively few jobs being created spread over a large area.

The communities of Barton, Cadishead and Irlam may benefit from these additional employment opportunities, but jobs have to be balanced against the other impacts:

- loss of amenity space including natural habitat and leisure facilities

- the loss of local green-belt

- the threat of Irlam becoming subsumed into urban sprawl, losing its identity as a unique place

- the worsening of traffic conditions in and out of Irlam at peak times

- the threat of employment losses as existing business can no longer operate within the town because of congestion

Irlam, has already lost 15 acres of open space to an inappropriate housing development which has compromised the local environment with raw sewage leaking into the Irwell wiping out the local fish population (Salford Advertiser)

As it stands there is no meaningful committment from the private developers to address problems of access to and from this new development - indeed the proposal on the table - Western Gateway initiative is likely to excerbate problems for the community, by closing access to J11 of the M60 and re-directing traffic to the Peel's developments around the Trafford Centre. There is simply a vague consideration that at some point down the line Metrolink will be extended into the Port area. Big deal!

What's actually needed is a comprehensive strategic review of transport infrastructure in western Salford.

What to do?

The decision to build on 98 acres of Green Belt underlines Salford Council's hollow proclamations about the city's green credentials.

We need to question whether this development is needed at all. Salford is a shrinking city, with some 20,000 fewer residents today compared to 1991. With the decline of industry there are 100 acres of brownfield sites within the city boundaries. Under the current economic conditions there is absolutely no reason to develop on green belt land.

You can have a voice, but you need to express your views by January 10 2010.

Click Salford's Core Strategy to have your say.

Source: Salford wants to build on green belt land - News - Manchester Evening News

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