22nd Nov, 2019

Save Our Green Belt Walk for Coventry to focus on climate change, children and wildlife - as 3,000 sign petition

Les Reid 27th Sep, 2019

A SAVE Our Green Belt Walk is set to step up the fight against 13,000 new homes being built around Coventry on green land – amid the backdrop of ‘climate emergency’.

Pupils from Cardinal Newman school in Keresley are set to join in the protest, and more than 3,000 people have now signed a petition.

It calls for the return of threatened land to protected Green belt status, and an urgent review of the city’s housebuilding plans.

The ‘one hour easy walk’ next Sunday (October 6) will take campaigners and residents over ‘historic and beautiful Keresley – Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden’.

It aims to demonstrate what would be lost – from ancient woodland to the site where rare medieval coins were discovered, to the one of the best wildlife ponds left in Coventry.

Keresley sees the breeding of 13 birds of “particular interest” to Natural England, while others pass through, the campaign literature states.

Keresley, Eastern Green, Finham, Westwood Heath, Coundon Wedge, Exhall, and Cromwell Lane are among sites identified in Coventry’s Local Plan to help the city build 42,400 homes in and around the city by 2031.

Campaigners say the figures don’t stack up, claiming the methodology behind predictions for Coventry’s population growth is flawed.

They allegedly include mistaken assumptions concerning Coventry’s present and future student population.

Campaigners also argue there is no real evidence that Coventry will grow faster than almost anywhere else outside London.

All the homes needed can fit on brownfield, they maintain.

Future generations will need moderate priced homes, not ‘luxury homes’.

Merle Gering, of the Coventry Green Belt campaign, said the over-development would also be contributing to unwelcome climate change.

He said: “Recent research shows that suburban developments have two or three times the carbon footprint of a city centre location. For obvious reasons – they use cars to go everywhere.

“It makes no sense, in the present climate emergency, to put lots of homes onto the fringes of Coventry, where people are going to live car-based, suburban lifestyles.”

He pointed to research which claims an average household in a high-density urban San Francisco-area community produces six metric tons of carbon emissions a year from transportation and household heating. A single-family household in a nearby suburban area produces 21 metric tons.

He has also called on Labour councillors such as former leader Ann Lucas to explain why they had previously joined such Green Belt campaign events before and during 2010, when in opposition (and until 2012 in power) they pledged to voters they would protect all green spaces and green belt from housebuilding.

The campaign is backed by opposition councillors, including Conservative councillors would backed building on green belt including at Keresley when they were in power at the Council House up to 2010.

Ruling Labour councillors have claimed since 2012 that their ambitions for Coventry to be a “top ten city” – growing by a third to over 400,000 – are based on sound predictions and figures.

The council has long responded to campaign challenges by saying the arguments, figures and national ONS methodology were closely tested and scrutinised at public inquiries held by a national planning inspector.

Campaigners say recent ONS data shows Coventry could actually have 17,600 people fewer than projected by 2026, a claim rejected by council leaders.

Mr Gering has previously said: “If there is hyper-population growth in Coventry – as the council claims – they are all ghosts or vampires.

“Latest government data shows they don’t vote, don’t go to A&E, don’t have babies or send children to school, don’t have cars, don’t receive state pension or ESA benefit, don’t use gas or electricity, and don’t produce household waste. Do they exist?

“Three world experts have looked at our case – on our website – and said ‘it is all compelling evidence.”

* The Save Our Green Belt Walk is on Sunday October 6 at 3pm. Meet at Hare & Hounds pub, Watery Lane, Keresley.

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