Environmental Considerations

A development of this scale, in such proximity to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, should not be supported.
 
This is an environmentally sensitive location next to  one of the component SSSIs of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area for birds. The Thames Basin Heaths mitigation plan seeks to zone development away from these sites. This results in a 400m buffer zone where no residential development is permitted.

A developer-led proposal driven by commercial considerations does not take account of the damage it would cause to the local environment and the strain it will place on the local infrastructure.
 
The Green Belt and Countryside Study referring to the importance of the openness of the land between Normandy and Flexford, has been ignored.  The current version of the Plan treats Normandy and Flexford as separate settlements for the purposes of Green Belt ‘sensitivity’ but as one settlement for the purposes of ‘sustainability’. This is a double standard
 
There are many vitally important ecological networks (green infrastructure corridors) that surround the proposed development area (namely Ancient and Semi-natural Woodland, Veteran Trees,  Hedgerows, Semi-improved Grassland, Farmland and a Stream) and connect to other important and protected sites within Normandy Parish and the wider countryside (namely Wanborough and Normandy Woods Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI), Normandy Pond SNCI, Normandy Common SNCI (put forward by the Surrey Local Nature Partnership in 2015), Wyke Churchyard SNCI, Little Flexford SNCI, and even more importantly Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA)).
 
This proposed development would destroy a number of these habitats including Semi-natural Woodland, Veteran and Mature Trees, Hedgerows, Farmland and Semi-improved Grassland, plus would have indirect affects on Ancient Woodland habitat and the Stream through pollution (light, noise, litter and diffuse land and road runoff), predation and disturbance by increased number of cats and dogs (187 cats (cat ownership being 17/100 households) and 264 dogs (dog ownership being 24/100 households) and by people (potential fires and vandalism of trees).
 
The proposed SANG is only 10ha and will be on land that will be muddy in wet weather and during the winter. Whereas the TBH SPA of Ash Ranges is dry during wet weather and during the winter, plus is either 5 minutes away by car or 20 minutes by foot.
 
All the habitats within or adjoining the proposed development site are Priority Habitats of Principal Importance under the NERC Act, plus a number of protected species (European Protected Species, Species of Principal Importance and those protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) as amended) have been recorded within either the proposed development site or 500m to 1km of the proposed development site. These include Hedgehogs, Dormice, Great Crested Newts, Barn Owls, Stag Beetles, Skylarks, Common Toads, Common Lizards, Grass Snakes, Adders, Slow worms, Badgers and Bats (including potential roosts within a number of veteran and mature oaks and other trees across the proposed development site and within the woodland blocks).
 
Light pollution from this proposed development on this scale would be starkly visible from Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
 
Effect on surrounding woodland and stream habitats that adjoin these roads including the SNCI's of Normandy Common, Normandy Pond and Wyke Churchyard.

Potential adverse impacts on the SPA could result from noise and disturbance during construction and through usage of the playing fields when, in addition, external lighting could cause disturbance to the feeding and roosting patterns of the SPA bird species. There could also be impacts on hydrology affecting the open water and wet heathland of the SPA/SSSI and from increased traffic on Westwood Lane, Glaziers Lane and Guildford Road. Traffic pollution is a major source of nitrogen pollution that changes heathland into grassland and many journeys to a new Secondary School could be expected to be by car.
 
Prior to any allocation of the site it will be necessary for the borough council to be able to conclude, beyond reasonable doubt, that there would be no adverse impact on the integrity of the SPA as a consequence of the proposed development of the site.
 
Further work is needed by the borough council to provide the evidence needed to be able to reach that conclusion in respect of the use of the site as a secondary school. The site will require archaeological assessment in advance of any application for development being submitted. I am grateful to Danial Winchester, a professional ecologist who lives in Normandy/Flexford, for much of the above information.

Wednesday the 28th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template