Letter to The News on Nitrate Neutrality

from Ann Buckley, Coordinator, Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance

Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance (HBRA) are very concerned about the Cabinet decision made on 3rd June and  reported in your article Bird reserve plan in Havant could break house building deadlock.

This whole process has been cloaked in secrecy. Our members have been excluded from meetings and had no access, prior to the Cabinet meeting on 3rd June, to the committee report. This report was regarding changes to the lease at Warblington Farm. Most of the farm is in the council’s ownership. 

All over the Borough high grade agricultural land is being lost to housing development at a time when local food production has become even more important. Here at Warblington Farm even more agrucultural land will be go to mitigate for housing development across the the Borough.

Currently because of the nitrate nutrient pollution in the harbours the only planning applications for housing that can be approved are those on farmland, on the basis that this would reduce the polluting nutrient load ending up in the harbours. 

The bird reserve proposed by Havant Borough Council may sound like a nice local facility. However, many specialists feel that the land at the farm would not provide sufficient replacement habitat for the important feeding sites that will be lost in other parts of the Borough. An example is the site where Curlew feed at Campdown ; that is part of  the large green area south of the HSDC South Downs campus.

HBRA are also concerned that the sea wall next to the proposed feeding site at Warblington Farm is damaged and this area could be inundated by sea water in the future.

We don’t know if the dairy currently there will remain, and there is no consideration about the benefit of a local authority lease for a young tenant farmer wishing to make a start in the industry. There is a national campaign to encourage local authorities to keep this type of council farm in agricultural production.

The Council have also made this decision before drawing up and publishing a Nutrient Neutrality Implementation Plan.

For over a decade there have been serious water quality problems in both Chichester and Langstone harbours. Despite drawing this to the attention of Havant Borough Council not nearly enough has been done in working with Southern Water to remedy this.

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