Saturday, 6 March 2010

Green Belt - a temporary repreive?

Salford CC announced yesterday, in the face of growing community opposition, to shelve plans to allow the development of 98 acres of Green Belt between Irlam and Barton. This was certainly a great victory for the effective community campaign which attacked the plans on several fronts. But I feel that this battle is not over. Certainly the Salford Star shares my suspicion that the timing in terms of the announcement and retraction of the proposals in the lead up to elections in May, suggests that local politicians have been playing power games with the community, as Labour attempt to regain control of the ward they lost to the pathetic and now defunct Community Action Party. It only takes a few hundred votes to swing it in Irlam, given poor turnouts at local elections. I wasn't surprised to see the Tories attempting to gain some political capital with the community either.

But everything has now come to a convenient end as Labour saves the day with the decision to take the Green Belt development out of the Core Strategy.

My concern in where next for Chat Moss? The port development and associated infrastructure is about to enter what will probably be a long and protracted planning consultation. This development will have a devastating effect on the local environment, produce even further traffic problems, will probably not create the level of investment and jobs created, damage the identity of the town, and will remove 200acres of unmanaged open space.

The situation regarding the continuation of peat extraction also raises further concerns.

Further, there are now suggestions the Peel are aiming to develop the aerodrome with a concrete runway, with a long term plan to extend this facility into a commercial airport.

The positive outcomes of the Green Belt proposal, however, is that there is now an organised group of like-minded local people who have shown the skill and tenacity to stand up against big local government and business. A Salford branch of Friends of the Earth has now been established. This growing network of concerned local and activists is much welcomed, but I fear they will be called into action again sometime soon.

Source: SALFORD GREEN BELT - Salford Star - with attitude & love xxx

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