The battle to stop the vast new housing development planned near the water meadows has been joined by the Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The bid to build 3,000 homes by controversial builder Persimmon and property giant Grainger on the beautiful downland is hugely controversial.
It was discovered in July that the scheme had won Garden Village status, applied for by the former West Dorset District Council and championed by local MP Oliver Letwin – despite the council formally postponing a decision until the new Dorset Council was created.
Now the CPRE has thrown its weight behind local residents’ protest group STAND, which has been fighting to stop the plans, which they say will be an environmental disaster.
To coincide with the move, STAND and CPRE have produced a leaflet highlighting the precious landscape and wildlife habitat that would be lost if the massive scheme – nearly half as big again as Poundbury – goes ahead.
Wildlife under threat
Threatened habitats and species include:
Lovers’ Lane: a wildlife corridor and habitat for a multitude of plants, butterflies and rare insects, small mammals and yellowhammers – a bird on the Red List of endangered species in Britain.
117 different types of bird, which have been seen in the water meadows, downland fields and hedgerows north of Dorchester.
The River Frome Site of Special Scientific Interest and the internationally important habitat of Poole Harbour – large-scale developments here could cause pollution and flooding downstream.
Ancient trees, which support a wealth of wildlife including very rare lichens.
Daubenton’s bat – this and other rare bats can be seen catching insects over the river. They use the hedgerows to navigate over fields.
Farmland – Growing food closer to home is better the environment. Cereals, beans and cattle and sheep are farmed here.
Old pasture land is a carbon sink; it absorbs lots of CO2. Building here would add to the global climate crisis.
STAND and CPRE say there are other options for house-building in the area:
47 brownfield sites in the local area;
5 acres of land at the former prison in Dorchester;
More of Poundbury yet to be built.
The leaflets also include three walks people can make over the beautiful, under-threat downland, taking in Hardy sites, a Bronze Age barrow and a medieval village.
The leaflet can be obtained from Fudge’s wool shop in Durngate Street; Dodgson’s hardware in South Street; and Autobitz in High East Street, with more to be announced.