Local environmental campaigners have clashed with the BCP council and landowners over controversial plans to build on Highmoor farm, Poole, and the area surrounding Talbot Heath.

There is disagreement as to whether the development will disrupt the existing habitat and local tranquillity or enhance and protect it.

Protester Nick Dobbs said: “Developers see greater shareholder reserves when building on green rather than brown belt land because it is cheaper.”

He went on to assert that the planned innovation quarter will attract 1,780 workers and commuters plus cars for Nuffield hospital which is planned for Highmoor farm.

Talbot Heath is said to be important to the Poole area. Campaigner Kerry Batcock who lives near the heath and has already seen parts of it destroyed, said: “Walking on the heath is great for wellbeing. It will be a huge loss to see (over a thousand) new employees for an innovation quarter nearBournemouth University.”

Another campaigner Harriet Stewart Jones of ‘Transition Poole’ emphasised the specialness of the area. She said it is anarea of conservation for its reptile and heathland habitats and it has the highest level of legal protection in Britain.

Other facts are that it is an area protected under the EU bird’sdirective and is a site of special scientific interest protected by UK law.

In UK law it is quoted that any development in a conservationarea must preserve or enhance the area. something campaigners are saying is not being upheld

Nick Dobbs exclaims that it is part owned by BCP council and it is the last remaining heathland in Bournemouth/ Poole area not surrounded by development.

Countering their argument are landowners ‘Talbot Village Trust’ and consultants ‘Devcomms’. Their spokespersonJames Mallinson stressed that there will be no development on the actual heath itself but did admit that they are planning to build on nearby land and Highmoor farm.

However, he insists that the development will protect the surrounding heath. Of the farm he said: “Proposed is a support area at Highmoor farm it will open fields to public access. There will be new open spaces for informal recreation. It will enhance wildlife and landscape beauty and fire safety measures will protect homes and Heath.”

He went on to say that it is important for the trust that the nearby land is protected, and that the development will benefit the heathland.

As for Highmoor farm he admitted there are plans to convert 12 hectares of the farmland but said: “It is a heathland support area to protect sensitive habitats on Talbot heath and mitigate impacts of future developments.”

Campaigners are outraged by these claims and say they will fight on to preserve the farm and the heath. Nick Dobbs said: “Claims from Devcomms don’t stack up.”

He added: “If upper Highmoor farm lost the meadow through excessive recreation there would be net losses in biodiversity.”

He went on to say that Devcomms are breaking regulations such as the 2021 New environment act. Also, local councilsare obliged by law to achieve 10% gains in biodiversity over 30 years.

Kerry Batcock surmised that: “Talbot Village Trust are well aware that the development of the farm increases rewards for their share holders and this is their priority.”

Others agree. The intergovernmental panel to protect wetlands worldwide, RAMSAR, signed an agreement in 1971 to halt worldwide loss of wetlands and conserve through wise use and management ones that remain.

Devcomms say they are doing this, but campaigners disagree. They said that the innovation quarter and a new hospital on the farmland will bring in untold disruption. Such as congestion on the Wallisdown Road, 1,780 commuters, andfootfall will be 10 times higher on Talbot heath than it is now

Attempts to stop the development include a petition so far signed by 2.500 people, leaflets, and the use of social media to spread the message.

Kerry Batcock said” Conceding is not really something I have thought about. I will fight and fight until this is over.”

About me
I reside in Bournemouth and I am a qualified published journalist specialising in environmental and social issues although I am adaptable and can write general articles. I have a distinction to my name and I have appeared numerous times in my local paper and the national press. I am community minded and believe in the power of journalism to bring communities together. I therefore write regularly for a community website.
See some of my workhttps://dorseteye.com/hope-for-local-community-theatre/

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