Joint Statement – Save West of Ifield and Ifield Society – October 13 2021
The recent Natural England directive on ‘water neutrality’ [above] – in which housing developments must not add to the amount of water being used in the Sussex North Water Supply Zone – has the full force of law behind it. Developers may well attempt to challenge this in the courts, but the law is very clear and this directive overrides all other planning directives of other agencies.
The local councils of Horsham & Crawley (both within the Water Supply Zone) now have little choice but to abandon or pause large development plans, such as the West of Ifield, Adversane and Buck Barn strategic site options. These developments would significantly add to the amount of water being used, as well as further threaten endangered species such as the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn snail and the Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn beetle.
Both councils have announced to the effect that they “will be pausing some planning application decision-making until we have fully considered this matter”. But surely this raises much bigger questions around Horsham’s Local Plan? Does it really make sense to try to sign-off the current draft Plan in November, when it contains several large developments which are no longer viable?
The Sussex North Water Supply Zone gets all its water from the Rivers Arun & Rother at Southern Water’s Hardham Water Supply Works.
Any expansion in water extraction from the Arun/Rother will adversely affect the RAMSAR and SSSI areas of the Arun Valley, such as Pulborough Wildbrooks – the natural habitat of the protected Little Whirlpool Ramshorn snail (Anisus vorticulus). This rare snail is only found in three places in the UK, one of which is the RAMSAR site on the Wildbrooks. The snail itself might appear insignificant, but it is seen as a lead indicator of trouble for other species.
Any expansion in water extraction will also adversely affect the ancient Non-RAMSAR areas such as the Parish Brooks, West of Ifield – the natural habitat of the endangered Longhorn beetles (Pogonocherus hispidulus).
Developers such as Homes England will find it very difficult to prove their development is ‘water neutral’ – not adding to the amount of water being used in the Sussex North Water Supply Zone – and that they are not endangering rare species.
For further information on this News Release, please contact:
Richard W. Symonds
Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only]