The end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, is living evidence that the Isle of Wight has been drastically hit by Climate Change. The level of rain we have experienced has been record breaking. We have experienced severe flooding, severe landslips, and record amount of sewage being released into the Solent and Sea.
It was back in 2019, I put forward a successful motion to Isle of Wight Council calling for a declaration of a climate emergency. The recent weather in the winter of 2023, is clearly showing it is more than a emergency it is a climate emergency. I am now in 2024, calling for a moratorium on developments near coastlines. The fight continues!
Protecting Nature so it Protects Us!
We’re incredibly proud of our Islands unique and natural beauty. We are proud of the many protected endangered species such as red squirrels, dormice and curlews that thrive on the Island. From rich ecosystems in green fields from Ryde to Bembridge, from Yaverland to Ventnor, our precious environment must be protected for future generations.
However, this natural beauty has an important purpose which the recent severe weather is teaching us along the coast from Wootton to Ventnor on the East/South of the Island. The lesson is that continuing even thinking about building a half mile or even a mile from the coastline large developments on green field sites, you are not only destroying nature but putting the population at risk.
Why are these developments happening!
If you analyse the smokescreen about housing affordability on the Island, you undercover an important truth and that is absent landowners have for many years planned to “cash” in their land on the Island. The simple act of of getting planning permission turns agricultural land value into a gold mine and an acre can go up 40 times its current value. The sheer pressure of a landowner and developer at Westridge Farm (West Acre Park Development) on a three generational tenant environmentally friendly farmer to agree to leave so they could build 472 houses cannot be forgotten. It is one of the biggest social injustices I have experienced in my lifetime. This was not about housing but about greed.
Building on Green fields near coastline has serious environmental consequences!
Thankfully the 900 house development on Pennyfeathers in Ryde was stopped in 2023 but this was only due to residents and myself as a local councillor insisting it was brought back to planning committee and not been left to officer decision which is normal for applications on the Island with outline planning permission. Recent consultation with the Environment Agency and Southern Water in December 2023 about flooding in my ward at West Hill Road on 25th October 2023, revealed their deep concern about the torrent of surface water coming from the higher ground of South/East Ryde (Pennyfeathers area) down the principal roads and going into the sewage system causing contaminated water flooding. There was concern that building large housing estates without proper water retention infrastructure and on important green field sites would be disastrous for the Town. There is a clear need for a total review of development and housing need in Ryde and across the Island. The community and Ryde Town Council need to be in the driving seat not private landowners and developers.
Residents are standing up and quietly fighting back in 2024! They need your support!
The good news is residents are continuing heroically to fight back from Ryde to Bembridge and the following is happening in 2024 as follows:
Save Westridge Farm Campaign (crowdjustice.com) The Save Westridge Farm campaign has published an update. As you know the campaign group took their case to the High Court for permission to seek Judicial Review in September 2023 and still awaiting for a decision. The campaign team is quietly working on making sure they have the financial resources to go to trial once permission is given. Recent torrential rain has provided clear evidence that the green environment at the South/East of Ryde provides natural water retention that is desperately needed to stop flooding on the Esplanade and prevent increased risk of sewage being released from Appley Park underground sewage pumping station. Please click on above and do support them as they are environmental and social justice pioneers!
Petition · Save Isle of Wight from Environmental Realities of Climate Change! · Change.org – I launched a petition prior to Christmas so it was in place in 2024 to give a voice to residents who are experiencing the environmental realities of climate change and get the IW Council to call a moratorium on all large developments proposed to be built near the coastline. Please click on above and sign this petition as a way of showing your support for the environment!
Draft Island Plan put on hold! – Isle of Wight council delays approval of Island Plan in light of new national planning policy rules (onthewight.com) Due to the Government publishing in December 2023, a new revised National Planning Policy Framework National Planning Policy Framework – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) which for the first time makes reference to Isle of Wight having possibly exceptional circumstances in regard planning, IW Council has removed the draft plan from the Cabinet meeting agenda on the 11th January 2024 and the Full Council Agenda on 17th January. This enables IW Council to seek legal advice and review the plan further. I have been lobbying hard on this as the draft Island Plan in its present form is still a landowners and developers charter and permission to print money and destroy important greenfield sites. I have campaigned continuously for many years that residents/local people/Town and Parish Councils, should determine the developments needed in their area and not be determined by landowners and developers. The draft Island Plan is not strong enough and still in my view balanced against the environment and residents/community. I will continue to fight for changes. Before Christmas I submitted detailed changes that my residents and I believed needed to be changed. See past posts on this website.
Stop Sewage Being Released in the Sea around and from the Isle of Wight!
I have submitted a motion to Isle of Wight Council’s Full Council meeting on 17th January and now awaiting for the agenda to be published. I have worked closely with Surfers Against Sewage – Surfers Against Sewage – UK charity campaigning for the ocean (sas.org.uk) and Cllr Sarah Redrup in drafting the wording as below:
IW council resolves to acknowledge that the volume of sewage ending up in our waters is unexceptable. From March 2022 to March 2023 there were 16787 hours when sewage was discharged into our waters. In October to November 2023 there was a single duration event of raw sewage release lasting 681 hours at Sandown.
IW council resolves to ensure that any solutions or programs put forward to help solve sewage pollution are adopted and installed without unnecessary barriers.
IW council resolves to work with all interested parties and organisations to implement sustainable urban drainage at every opportunity. For horizontal integration of sustainable urban drainage to be placed in all ongoing development across the Isle of Wight.
IW Council resolves to work with all stakeholders ensuring that sewage releases into the sea surrounding the Isle of Wight are zero by 2030.
This motion will enable IW Council to debate this issue and the environmental consequences of the continuous release of sewage by Southern Water into the sea and on our beaches.
Raising Funds for Protection of Marine Life around the Island
The Mermaid Atlantic Rowing Team are nearly half way in their epic bid to row across the Atlantic. They are raising awareness and funds to protect marine life around the Island and specifically raising funds for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and the Seahorse Trust. This highlights why we need to protect nature’s environment on the Island as it is unique, special and essential to our existence. Please support them and donate to these important environmental causes!
Build a Better Bembridge – Home – Build A Better Bembridge
Residents of Bembridge have been gallantly fighting against the same developer involved in the West Acre Park development/Save Westridge Farm campaign and the building on environmentally and coastal protection green field sites in their village. They are currently objecting to two planning applications. One of my key reflections is that why are IW Council’s Planning department seemingly ignoring the 100s if not 1000s of clearly well evidenced material objections by Islanders/residents, Town and Parish Councils and other statutory consultees on numerous planning applications in favour of landowners and developers!
Residents in the East Wight taking action in 2024!
Residents are showing daily in the East Wight about how they care about the Island’s environment and not afraid to challenge the local authority (IW Council), landowners and developers. They are speaking up, joining forces and making waves. 2024, will see further campaigns and through their heroism and voices, we will get the truth out and get a fair deal for our environment, people and future generations.