Barrow Farm and Langley common

My Planning Objection to building on Barrow Farm

Another day another planning application in Chippenham. It seems that at the moment there is a concerted effort to build on all of Chippenham’s historic farmland and bury it under concrete as fast as possible ignoring the voice of local residents.

So now we have a planning application for Barrow Farm, Chippenham. An historic farm with fertile soil and an important part of Chippenham’s heritage.

You can view and comment on the planning application here…

Planning Application 21/01636/OUT 

Barrow Farm 

Here is my objection to proposed development… 

I object to this application for the following reasons: 

Carbon Budget 

I can see no mention of a Carbon Budget in this application and how a net zero build will be achieved and net zero running costs. 

The UK government has pledged to meet net zero carbon by 2050. Wiltshire County council and Chippenham Town council have both declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to reach net zero by 2030. 

Using work from Professor Tim Jackson and information sent to me by Mike Berners-Lee I have calculated the fair carbon budget for Chippenham to be 1.69 megatonnes in order to achieve our portion of staying withing the safe 1.5 degrees C global temperature rise. 

I can see no mention as to how these houses will be built, but at a typical 50-80 tonnes of CO2 per house build using current construction techniques the build alone will generate 12,500 tonnes of CO2 using approximately 1% of the total remaining budget. This is before disturbed carbon in the soil and road building is accounted for plus additional car usage. 

 If you consider the total budget is already reduced by commuting – 114k tonnes of CO2, conversion to electric vehicles – 200k tones, household energy 457k tonnes, and the Future Chippenham and Local plan reviews which would add another 500k tonnes for build alone depending on construction methods, it remains impossible for Chippenham to meet its 1.5 degree climate goal. We are planning to fail at the start of the most important decade to tackle climate change. 

There is no mention of local electricity generation e.g. solar panels, constructions techniques to achieve net zero running costs e.g. Passivhaus.  

It is the first responsibility of Wiltshire Council to safeguard the welfare of their citizens, including by taking reasonable measures to mitigate substantial threats. Climate change is a grave threat to people around the world, jeopardising health, security and prosperity. If Wiltshire council fail to take reasonable and rational measures to safeguard against it, or take actions which increase the threat, they may be called to account through the judicial process.  

Barrow Farm is considered Moderate to High fertility farmland and must be preserved for future generations.

Climate Adaption  

The land being built on is shown by Cranfield University as excellent farmland with moderate to high fertility suited to autumn sown crops and grassland. 

Under some Climate pathways we could reach summer temperatures of over 40 degrees C in Wiltshire. Refer to the Met Office for a 2050 forecast. This is not a prediction but a possible pathway that we should risk assess for. In this scenario global food supplies are likely to be disrupted and it will become too hot to grow food in some countries such as India.  

Thus having local farmland available for future generations of Chippenham residents to grow food on is vital. 

It is the first responsibility of the local government in a democratic society to protect and safeguard the lives of its citizens. Where there is a foreseeable risk of substantial harm, a local government will be under a duty of care to take reasonable steps to safeguard its citizens against that harm, and failing to take such steps will constitute a breach of that duty. 

Public authorities must also act in accordance with fundamental human rights. The Preamble to the Paris Agreement affirms this principle to the context of climate change: 

Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their … obligations on human rights … 

Not only must local governments avoid infringing human rights (such as the right to life or the right to family life), in certain circumstances they must take positive steps to safeguard those rights  

Many people are dying already from climate change and air pollution. If local governments fail to take reasonable, proportionate action to tackle climate change they are also failing to take reasonable steps to uphold the right to life. 

I argue that the risk of Climate change is known by Wiltshire Council given their own declared Climate emergency. The building on local historic farmland fails to take an adequate risk assessment of the future need for this land to grow food for future generations. 

Biodiversity Loss 

Since 1970 25% of UK mammals face extinction, 41% of species are in decline, and since the 1930s 97% of UK wildflower meadows have been lost. This site builds on the historic location of Langley common that must be preserved and enhanced for future generations. We do not own this land, we are merely custodians for all future generations. 

This is not just soil, it is an ecosystem, that is a system of interconnected living and non-living things. Plants, trees, and grasses, and at a smaller scale microorganisms living in the soil, itself a mixture of organic and mineral components. These all come together to form a closed system that recycles nutrients, water and other materials. This plan makes no account of the value of that ecosystem and the damage caused by pouring concrete foundations and building access roads through it. 

Cultural Benefits 

This plan takes no account of the unquantifiable value that we can’t put a price on how we feel about a place, yet we do. The people of Chippenham indicated in last year’s Neighbourhood plan survey that they were concerned about overdevelopment and urban sprawl. As I campaign to be an Independent councillor I have already received many concerned emails regarding the loss of this land for culture and recreation from dog walking groups to local folk musicians. Chippenham is facing a huge number of development applications some in progress and some still under consultation. It is enough.  

Matthew Short – Independent Council Candidate – Hardens & Central Ward