No to sea of glass

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WE WHO support the campaign to oppose the march of huge industrial glasshouses at Easton Farm, Almodington, were greatly encouraged to read the letter from Bob Neill MP, local government minister (Observer, November 24).

Addressed to Chichester Harbour Conservancy, Mr Neill’s letter made clear his government is ‘committed to safeguarding the natural environment’. He goes on to say, ‘along with protections for the environment our planning reforms go further by putting power into the hands of communities so they decide for themselves the areas they wish to see developed, and those that should be protected’.

We who oppose the glasshouse project, and its many long-term threats to the environment and amenity of the local community, all heartily endorse the minister’s opinion. Indeed, we are greatly relieved the original community-friendly principles of localism may yet be preserved in new planning laws that looked like being hijacked by the developers.

Perhaps at the eleventh hour, the fight to protect our countryside waged by the National Trust and the CPRE amongst others, and promoted brilliantly in the Daily Telegraph’s Hands off our Land campaign, have all had an impact.

We hope so. The people have spoken with one voice: they do not want a sea of glass between Sidlesham and the coast.

The people have been heard locally, and our elected representatives in Chichester District Council rejected the glasshouse proposal unanimously at a planning committee meeting last March.

You could not ask for a more democratically-based decision, and yet it is a sad comment on the current planning system that, following Madestein’s appeal to the Secretary of State, there is now to be a public inquiry in February which will involve our community raising £100,000 to carry the fight to this last, and very expensive, battleground.

We will fight on, but please hear us, Mr Neill, please listen to the people.

John Cunningham-Reid

The Almodington Association