Threats to the Colne Valley

The Colne Valley Park was established in 1965 when the previous generation saw its potential to serve communities of west London and neighbouring counties in providing a valuable escape into the countryside. With each passing year, the Park has to fight harder than ever to preserve its precious and fragile landscape against a wave of threats. These include giant infrastructure projects like the High Speed 2 railway line, and proposals for a new runway and further expansion at Heathrow Airport.

There are many development proposals at the moment, it feels like ‘open season’ on the countryside of the Colne Valley Regional Park

We take all professional routes to make a difference to stop these plans and to ensure that  if any plans are given permission the developers see the damage their proposals will cause to the local landscape and adapt their plans to reduce and compensate for impact on the countryside. We use local and national planning policies to help justify our case. The government’s warm words on Green Belt but lukewarm actions mean we are not always able to stop every development but the recently revised National Planning Policy Framework makes the call for mitigation easier to justify.

We have been busy over recent weeks working on responses to planning applications and consultations for development proposals. This includes:

  • a 91 page response to Heathrow’s immense plans to put 900 acres of the Colne Valley Regional Park and 4 rivers under millions of tons of concrete. Our response highlights the immense impact on the Colne Valley Regional Park and calls for comprehensively designed Green & Blue Infrastructure across the area round the airport to create a landscape that works for both people and wildlife with excellent connectivity and barriers to movement overcome. A copy of our response can be seen here
  • a submission to the South Bucks and Chiltern local plan stating the plan is not ‘sound’. We object to the proposed removal of land from the green belt and encourage a more positive approach towards the environment
  • a letter of objection to the proposed Motorway Service Area near Chalfont St Peter. We are also talking to Chiltern District Council and the developer to improve the (currently inadequate) environmental  mitigation should the scheme be given approval
  • a letter of objection to the proposal to relocate Lakeside Energy from Waste plant to a green-belt site near Colnbrook. This proposal is connected to Heathrow expansion but entirely unjustified in planning terms. Where we do agree with Grundon (the site operator) is that we would rather Heathrow expansion didn’t go ahead so the  plant could stay where it is.
  • A letter of objection to the huge warehouse development at Maple Cross. Unfortunately the Local Authority removed this area from the green belt a few years ago but there are still clear reasons for objection because of flood issues and the effect on Maple Lodge Nature Reserve and surrounding Countryside

In addition we welcome the review of High Speed 2 and hope that the correct decision is made by government to cancel this scheme. The effects of construction are already being felt in the Colne Valley and will only get worse. The sooner this scheme is scrapped , the better.

Our position statements on some of these development proposals can be seen at https://www.colnevalleypark.org.uk/whats-special/safeguardthecountryside/

Heathrow Looms on the Horizon, viewed from Harmondsworth Moor

View over the Colne Valley from Harefield towards the location of the proposed HS2 tunnel portal and construction site