Robin Page on Development in South Cambridgeshire

barn_owls17:08 Tuesday 25th February 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[D]OTTY MCLEOD: Heads should roll at South Cambridgeshire District Council. That’s according to the Chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust. Robin Page says the planned development of Bourn Airfield could endanger important wildlife, and that the Council hasn’t done enough to protect it. It’s possible new development is part of a bigger local plan to build nearly 20,000 new homes in the countryside around Cambridge over the next two years. Robin Page joins me now. So Robin, what is so outrageous about what is going on?

ROBIN PAGE: Well it’s supposed to be a consultation. It’s not a consultation. People are just being told where they’ve got to have houses. We had a workshop in which councillors could go, and we discussed areas where development could take place. Bourn Airfield was virtually thrown out. I’ve seen the flip-charts reporting the progress of that workshop. It’s a total shambles. Who’s running the Council? Are the councillors, who are representing the people who voted for them? Or is it officers and a few Tories unfortunately, just doing what David Cameron wants them to do?
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you acknowledge the need for more housing in South Cambridgeshire?
ROBIN PAGE: No, because ten years ago the Chief Planning Officer said Cambridge was full. South Cambridgeshire was full. If it was full ten years ago, it’s full now.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s simply not a realistic view though is it Robin?
ROBIN PAGE: Why not?
DOTTY MCLEOD: The housing waiting list is already as long as your arm.
ROBIN PAGE: No no no no.
DOTTY MCLEOD: What are we meant to do with all those people? Tell them to leave?
ROBIN PAGE: Now look. Don’t you start misleading your listeners. The housing list isn’t as long as my arm. The houses are being built for people to come in who want to leave London and then commute back to it. The Council has no figures about the number of commuters who are coming. And then of course our population is going up through immigration. Now immigration is not a racial problem, it’s an environmental one. And the Royal Society said two years ago the big problem with Britain is that it is separating environmental problems with overpopulation problems. And this is what we continue to do. We stick our head in the sand, and we ignore the fact that we’re the most densely populated country in Europe. And we’ve got a third world rate of population increase, because Europe no longer has nation states. And people wander about Europe like nomads and wandering tribesmen, and a lot of them are coming to Britain. The whole thing is taking Britain and Europe back hundreds of years.
DOTTY MCLEOD: It strikes me Robin that that’s a slightly different question. So let’s get back to the subject of Bourn Airfield.
ROBIN PAGE: No. I just said to you. If you’re too stupid to understand it, that the Royal Society said housing population and the environment are part of the same subject. Now we’re talking about huge developments in South Cambridgeshire, that I would argue are not needed. And the Bourn Airfield one is going to do huge environmental damage to the Bourn Valley, that the Countryside Restoration Trust has worked hard to get wildlife back in it. We’ve got barn owls back. How will they be affected by the increased flow of water, because a regular flooding at speed will kill their food?
DOTTY MCLEOD: So Robin, you really think that the needs of the barn owls and the water voles …
ROBIN PAGE: Don’t be so stupid.
DOTTY MCLEOD: … need to take precedence over the needs of people?
ROBIN PAGE: Really, you’re now being petty and childish.
DOTTY MCLEOD: No that’s what your press release says.
ROBIN PAGE: You’re not seeing the environmental argument. You really are taking a very dim urban view. The whole of the environment is important. And that includes people. It includes people who work on the land, in the land, and it includes communities. And communities are going to be destroyed by this huge input of people as well. Villages that have grown organically and historically are just going to be overwhelmed. And Nick Wright, who I like, is part of this blinkered process. And from your worked questions, you are as well.