The Company aims to get the SODC local development plan overturned. Sue Roberts, Chair of Bioabundance says: “This plan is to build four times more homes than can even be filled, according to current trends. Government is selling off the land under our feet to create economic growth in our area. We would have to suck people out of areas where economic recovery is desperately needed, just to fill these homes.”
At the High Court on 29th April, Bioabundance was refused permission to take their case to a ‘substantive’ hearing. Bioabundance’ grounds for challenge are that the inspector did not take climate change properly into account; and that councillors were forced to adopt the plan against their better judgement.
Ian Ashley, (Bioabundance’ Director), says: “High Court judges could not see the legal strength of our arguments. We are going to the Court of Appeal to ask,’Could you mark their work please? They could be wrong.’”
Andrew Nicolson (Bioabundance’ Member) says “Our point of law has not been fairly heard and so we go to the Court of Appeal because there should be justice. The adoption of the plan and the interpretation of climate law by the inspector, are both legally wrong.”
This final recourse in the courts will not be open to citizens in the future, as the government seeks to end the right to judicial review.
The Local Plan was put together by a Conservative District Council in 2018. In May 2019, the Greens and Libdems took control of the council; they were voted in to scrap the plan. But Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing forced the Council to take it through to adoption.
Melanie Mousley-Jones says: “I am gobsmacked by the machinations behind the scenes that are jeopardising the things we love. We need the right homes in the right places, not this plan that will devastate the countryside. How can we communicate the extent of havoc this development will wreak? As Joni Mitchell sang: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.’”
Ian says: “On Thursday, I walked along the river at Sandford, and at Kings Weir, North of Wolvercote, just along from the swimming beach. Both places were teeming with untreated raw sewage, floating on the water. Thames Water says to manage this sewage properly, just for us who live here now, will take a generation. What will happen with all this new housing?”
Sue says: “Development is supposed to ‘contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ (National Policy Planning Framework, 2018 para 148). If you were to build one single home that is not zero-carbon, then you are doing the opposite. South Oxfordshire is to build 32,000”.
Bioabundance is a community company of over 70 individual members and parish councils. The Oxford Colleges, Christ Church and Magdalen; as well as Thames Water and Oxford City Council have all joined the action against Bioabundance.
Sue says “This is a David and Goliath struggle between us, the people, and the forces of exceptional wealth. If you are connected to these colleges, please remind them that their aim is for social good, not to destroy our future. They have a responsibility as custodians of our land, to bring back a safe natural world and help us to reach zero-carbon. Please join us too, at www.biobundance.org.uk”.
Ian Ashley says ”We are confident that the majority of people in Oxfordshire do not want this level of growth. Several Concreting Councillors were thrown out at the election on Thursday – Greens and Libdems have made great gains on the County Council. People are voting for a safe future. Let us not see the heavy-hand of government overturn local democracy again”.