Extreme weather proves the importance of green spaces
I FIND the current extreme changes in the weather unnerving as well as the great appetite to develop on Plymouth's green open spaces.
These areas need better protection to preserve and protect the natural environment and wildlife; without these corridors of green belt the movements of insects, birds and animals involved in pollination will be severely hampered, with perhaps the loss of local species altogether.
As development schemes go through the planning process, so-called local authority experts assure us on what little impact things will have on the environment.
An area close to where we live was set aside for development; we opposed it as it was the last bit of open space left in the area, but one particular aspect we were worried about was flooding and landslip due to the steep nature of the land.
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The Prince Maurice allotments lie between Lipson and Prince Maurice Road, they have been unused now for over ten years, but have become a haven for wildlife and they also act as a natural soak-away for rainwater.
After spells of heavy rain there can be major flooding in Lipson Vale, but once that has passed and for many days after, the water will slowly drain away from the open land at the Prince Maurice allotments, down Lipson Road and into Alexandra Road.
Surely any development on this land is going to make flooding worse as it won't be able to slowly drain away but instead pour off quickly from the new buildings and roads, creating even worse flooding in the Vale and more importantly, as we have seen in Exeter recently, the possibility of a landslip.
If I recall, some consideration was made in the planning application about the possibility of flooding but in the end the land has been deemed safe to build over. Fortunately the original developer appears to have pulled out and is now trying to sell the land with planning permission.
It will be interesting to see what effect the second large student accommodation block, currently under construction, will have on Alexandra and Lipson Road's drainage system when it is fully up and running, as this area in the past was a church with gardens.
The UK does appear to have a definite lack of environmental experts, which has been clearly proven in the ash tree die-back crisis where it was admitted there were only about ten people in the UK who could properly advise the government on tree diseases. Keeping the green open space for future generations is vitally important. We already have a vague idea on the importance of local eco-systems, but what about the unknown benefits it could bring and what about the unknown bad things it could bring if it is all gone? Surely these forecasts no expert can predict.
Perhaps what's best for Plymouth is to try and deal with the current housing stock by exploring and exhausting all options, either develop on brown land (not the airport or other green open land, designated brown land, and not demolish school playing fields), change the use of buildings but not necessarily pull them down and get empty properties filled. Mutley and Greenbank seem to have had a sudden surge of empty properties that have, in recent months, remained empty and for let.