ALL large-scale developments in the Dorset Council area should be banned – on environmental and climatic grounds writes Trevor Bevins.

The call comes from the group opposed to the huge housing development north of Dorchester.

The county town scheme, which had been the preferred option in the previous Local Plan to meet the area’s housing needs, could bring 3,500 new homes in a development bigger than Poundbury, some of it on water meadows.

Protest group STAND (Save the Area North of Dorchester) says that a radical policy change is needed from the council given the recent and continuing change in climate conditions.

Said a group spokesperson: “The risk of flooding from these large- scale developments is now well evidenced.

“The climatic consequences of covering a 200-acre area of farmland in concrete were certainly not considered when this development was conceived. We are now in a very different situation with extreme weather patterns becoming the norm.

"It does not take much imagination to envisage the future repercussions of building on land that directly overlooks Dorchester.

The run-off into the Frome river plain and water meadows could be devastating. The resulting rise in the water table alone can have serious implications for both drainage and sewage systems.”

The group points to recent flooding which has affected residents in the Winterbourne Valley following heavy rainfall – leaving the main road only just passable and homes in danger of flooding, both with run-off water and from the sewage system. There has also been flooding on the meadows where the Dorchester North housing scheme is proposed and elsewhere in the area.

“The Council has already declared a climate and ecological emergency, it is our view that this development is inconsistent with their legally binding climate change commitment and adds further weight to the environmental issues that underpin our opposition. We have already demonstrated the permanent damage to the wildlife and habitat that will occur but equally important are the factors of CO2 emissions, light and noise pollution.

“The drain on resources will be immense, estimates vary but it is thought that a development of this size will require hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material. The devastating effect on all aspects of our environment cannot be overstated. Dorset needs to be taking a lead on this local and global issue.”

STAND are requesting urgent talks with the council and for the authority to consider the inclusion of a policy that reflects the changes in the climate both now and in the future.

Dorset is currently reviewing its Local Plan and is at the stage of considering comments on its draft proposals. It has said that all ideas relating to future planning policies for the area will be considered - although Cabinet member for planning Cllr David Walsh has said that the council has to adhere to Government guidelines, which include the need to have a five-year supply of available land for housing.

READ MORE: Campaign group protesting development on 'timeless' land in Dorchester