Portsmouth Green Party's deputation to the City Council regarding development at Tipner West

11 October 2022

On behalf of the Green Party, Tracey McCulloch is giving the deputation below to the meeting of Full Council today, 11th October, where they will be discussing their plans for development at Tipner West.

"A year ago I went on a wet and windy walk around the proposed development site at Tipner West, along with other Green Party members, locals and other interested people. We wanted to take a proper wander around the area and see what the fuss is about. We had seen all the flashy PR documents produced on the proposed developments and the opportunities claimed within them.

"Along with us was David Allwright from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. He answered our questions and gave us a pragmatic overview, including the damage that would be caused by any more land reclamation and the space for wildlife that would be lost. It was obvious that this green space is more than just a piece of land in need of development. It is naturally managing itself to be more than just a wild and wonderful dog walking space.

"There are unique features in the landscape that do the job of so many things that can’t ever be replicated and are at risk of being destroyed, such as the vital habitat for dark-bellied Brent geese and the black-tailed godwit, and the salt marshes which act as natural sea defences and a carbon sink, whilst also remediating pollution in the harbour.

"The needs of the City Deal are one of the reasons given for the proposed development at Tipner West, but the City Deal only requires 1,250 homes and 30,000 sqm of marine employment space, which can easily be accommodated without land reclamation and destruction of the protected mudflats.

"While it is clear that we need new affordable homes in the city, we can’t let protected sites be destroyed while brownfield sites are still awaiting development. The Council must also challenge the Government’s figures for the number of houses required to be built on this unique island city, via the proper “exceptional circumstances” process already used by our neighbours in the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. The scaremongering tactics that imply there is a significant cost to Portsmouth if the development doesn’t go ahead, conveniently ignore the fact that if the protected intertidal habitat is built over then the city will be required to create and maintain up to 170 hectares of habitats elsewhere in perpetuity (over 80 years or more). Not only is this staggeringly expensive but Portsmouth people will not get the benefit. Any development must also come with a commitment that it will be aligned with the nature-positive design principles set out by the RSPB and the National House Building Council.

"Finally, at a time when, of necessity, we are building sea defences all around Portsea Island, what sense is there in building anything new at sea level? One of the reasons we are building so many sea defences in this country is because of development on natural flood defences, such as the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - protected intertidal salt marshes at Tipner.
In this time of unprecedented climate and nature crisis, we should be doing all we can to protect and enhance our natural environment in the interests of future generations. Councillor Pitt has claimed that “Flood defences need to be built and the land needs to be decontaminated. That will involve land reclamation. There's no way around it.” The RSPB and the Wildlife Trust have demonstrated a plan which meets the Council’s goals for housing and development whilst safeguarding the sites protected for nature conservation and requiring no ecosystem-destroying land reclamation. It is depressing, but accurate, that this government have launched a barrage of criticism at wildlife charities just for sticking up for the protections that defend nature and climate. These are NOT partisan issues and being pro nature is NOT 'anti-growth'.

"So let’s all come together, and in the words of Councillor Steve Pitt, make a grown-up decision to move forward. Let us all join together in opposing any new building at Tipner which will have any impact on Portsmouth Harbour and the biodiversity of our island city."

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