Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Steven Jones Esq (FP 11)


  My concern has been heightened by recent events—that is the heavy rainfall over the last three months—Aylesbury like many other low lying valley communities is no stranger to flooding, all be it on a smaller scale than some.

  Aylesbury is a strategic town and as such has been put under tremendous pressure to take the bulk of the housing development that is deemed to be necessary over the next 10 years in the County. In this respect Aylesbury is like many other towns throughout Britain. Land on its periphery is under pressure.

  During the recent heavy rains the Bearbrook filled to capacity and indeed flooded small parts of the town. This stream forms part of the River Thame catchment which in turn forms part of the Thames catchment area. The River Thame is renowned for flooding. The Bearbrook also caused problems in the past until a flood alleviation scheme was constructed during 1996 at Broughton. The Environmental Agency policy for flooding agricultural land to protect property worked well on this occasion—large tracts of the Broughton floodplain were sodden and under standing water—indeed still are two weeks later. Fields soak up water and release it slowly. As a result Aylesbury's population remained dry, as did most of the communities down stream.

  One can only imagine the effect that building on or near this floodplain would have. Consequences are well known from experiences in other parts of the Country.

  A further concern to me is the effect the proposed scheme would have on wildlife. Inadvertently the flood alleviation scheme has become a haven for wildlife. The Broughton area—although within close proximity to the town centre is home to many threatened species of birds, mammals and amphibia. It is also rich in plant life and is home to many species of butterfly and moths.

    —  There are several species of birds on the British Trust for Ornithology Red List of Conservation Concern, breeding regularly at Broughton. These include Grey Partridge, Skylark, Song Thrush, Linnet, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer. The area is also an important local wintering site for Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe and Jack Snipe.

    —  Mammals include the threatened Brown Hare and Water Vole as well as Weasel, Stoat and one of the largest Badger sets in the area. The rare Daubentons Bat can also be found.

    —  Great Crested Newts are found in some of the pools in the area.

    —  The area is one of the most important sites in the Country for rare Black Poplars.

  To lose all this wildlife in an area accessible and used by many in the town would be tragic. Set in an agricultural area most of the surrounding area is not easily accessible—Broughton on the other hand should be seen as a valuable local area—the mass development of the site would be criminal.

  My concern for the wildlife at Broughton is intensified by the fact that the ecological research by outside consultants was poor—indeed they failed to recognise one of Buckinghamshire's largest Badger Sets.

  I can only hope that our Local Authority takes heed of the concern for Development on floodplains and the damage it may do to wildlife. The Local Plan is yet to be set in stone so it is not too late to review development proposals for the area.

17 November 2000

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