Magazine article Geographical

The Battle for Dibden Bay: As the Government Proposes to Reform the Planning System, Another Dispute Errupts between Conservationists and the UK's Heavy Industry. (UK)

Magazine article Geographical

The Battle for Dibden Bay: As the Government Proposes to Reform the Planning System, Another Dispute Errupts between Conservationists and the UK's Heavy Industry. (UK)

Article excerpt

One of the most acrimonious planning rows witnessed in Britain over the past few years will erupt this summer over plans to build a container port within the proposed New Forest National Park.

Britain's biggest ports company, Associated British Ports (APB), wants to locate large numbers of docks and cranes and a 200-hectare terminal at Dibden Bay in Southampton Water. The plans will create one of the biggest docks in Europe, handling 1.4 million containers a year. If plans go ahead an extra 3,000 lorries are likely to thunder through the New Forest each day.

The deep-water port will sit snugly inside the planned boundary of the New Forest National Park which was unveiled by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott 18 months ago. One of William the Conqueror's favourite hunting grounds, the New Forest is 320 square kilometres of ancient woodland and open heath. It is southern England's last unspoilt wilderness.

Environmentalists are stunned by the plans, warning that construction and the increase in heavy goods traffic will dramatically alter the area's important wildlife and unique landscape.

The project is also likely to affect designated wildlife sites along Southampton Water, including at least five Sites of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive.

English Nature, the Government's conservation adviser, and the Environmental Agency have condemned the planned port, citing concerns over pollution and the impact on sensitive habitats. …

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