Re-blogged from Get Surrey first shared on April 30, 2013
AN ‘e-petition’ has been launched to stop the former DERA site being removed from the green belt.
Runnymede Borough Council’s website has expanded to accept online petitions, and signatures are rapidly adding to the ‘Save the Green Belt’ one launched by the Runnymede branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The borough council is considering removing green belt status from the 310-acre site near Longcross and Chobham, to build 1,500 new homes in order to meet government targets.
However, the site borders the sensitive Chobham Common nature reserve on the north side, where 200 homes and a business park are planned.
Andrew Telford, chairman of CPRE Runnymede, said: “We are delighted to be part of Runnymede council’s first ever e-petition.
“CPRE started this petition as part of our ‘Hands off the Green Belt’ campaign.
“Green belt land everywhere is under threat from development, and Runnymede borough is no exception.”
James Osbourn, from the Chobham Society, added: “This development not only threatens the green belt, it will bring thousands of cars onto local roads and have a devastating effect on Chobham Common, one of the finest of the few remaining areas of lowland heath in the world.
“The common is home to many protected species, including rare ground nesting birds, whose habitat could be decimated by the hoards of new visitors.”
Another opposition group, the Open Spaces Society, has branded the decision to build homes near the common, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as “outrageous”.
A business forum was held by Crest Nicholson last month for representatives from Egham and Runnymede businesses, including a presentation on the developer’s plans for the site.
It was well received by most of those who attended, although some still had reservations on how the area’s infrastructure might cope with the burden of the extra vehicles.
In February last year, Runnymede council’s planning committee voted in favour of exploring releasing the site from the green belt as well as reviewing the borough’s green belt boundary.
The petition can be found at petitions.runnymede.gov.uk/savethegreenbelt.