Bid to save dock green belt land

CONCERNED villagers are making a last ditch attempt to make councillors have a change of heart on plans to use green belt land in Easton-in-Gordano to expand Royal Portbury Dock. North Somerset Council is proposing, as part of its local plan document, to

CONCERNED villagers are making a last ditch attempt to make councillors have a change of heart on plans to use green belt land in Easton-in-Gordano to expand Royal Portbury Dock.North Somerset Council is proposing, as part of its local plan document, to take a 200-acre site at Court House Farm out of the greenbelt and safeguard it for future dock development.Originally plans to take the land either side the A369 and at Courthouse Farm were not included in the local plan, but in a last minute change of heart, the authority said it should be allowed to be used for dock expansion should there be a proven need.At an inquiry into the plan in 2005, a Government inspector upheld the decision to allow the swathes of countryside to be used for dock growth and agreed both sites should be taken out of the green belt. The move caused a massive outcry from villagers and a campaign ensued which saw thousands of people object to the change.As a result North Somerset Council agreed, at its meeting to finalise the local plan in November, that the land either side of the A369 at Portbury should remain in the green belt, but that the Courthouse Farm site could be used for future expansion.The news was greeted by horror by local councillors who are now lobbying district members in a bid to get the recommendation thrown out. The consultation period into the green belt change ends this week.Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council chairman Gerry Hunt said: "While recognising the port provides employment in the area, the parish council still feels that the case for more land has not been made."Councillors also feel that many activities, particularly the huge amount of car storage, are not directly dock related and are not an efficient use of port land and could take place elsewhere without spreading on to one of the last remaining green buffers between the villages and the dock. "Indeed this view was supported by the Planning Inspector at a previous related inquiry in 2003". "Many residents remember an assurance given by one of the owners of the Bristol Port Company some years ago that once the coal yard was established, there would be no further encroachment into the parish."This now has a hollow ring to it.".A final decision on the local plan will be made in February.


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