Activists and Conservative MP in dispute over plans for 300 new homes
PUBLISHED: 15:18 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:18 04 March 2020
Extinction Rebellion Norwich members and a Tory MP are at odds over a 300-home development on the edge of Norwich.
The XR activists are urging Jerome Mayhew to rethink plans for the scheme on Racecourse Plantations in Thorpe Woodlands.
Mr Mayhew is a trustee of the Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, which owns the woodlands and successfully sought planning permission for 300 new homes in 2018.
But following his election last year as Broadland MP, Extinction Rebellion members have argued his new position is at odds with the development, which would see 10 hectares of woods destroyed as well as the creation of a country park.
It comes after his Conservative colleagues, including Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, also objected to the plans.
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Campaigners wrote a letter to Mr Mayhew at the start of February asking for the preservation of the woodland in face of the climate emergency.
They said no reply was received so handed the letter to Mr Mayhew at his public surgery in Acle on February 28.
Dr Barbara Howey, from XR, said: "Mr Mayhew said he was expecting us and immediately apologised he had not received the letter and said he would reply. We spoke and he said the development of Thorpe Woodlands was exemplary in terms of its benefits to the community."
Mr Mayhew said: "I invited Extinction Rebellion to come into my surgery to discuss their concerns, which they did. They now know that trees have not been felled in order to build houses. The Trust has permission to use a 9ha area of harvested commercial forestry monoculture, which XR agreed has been of low ecological value, to provide 300 houses for the local community, of which 100 will be for social housing.
"The Trust plans to give away the whole of the rest of the woods, some 150 acres of beautiful semi natural woodland, for public recreation and the delivery of ecological and biodiversity growth, for free, with all the management costs funded by the housing development.
"We need new houses and this is a great way to provide them whilst actually improving biodiversity and creating a huge new park for the people of Norwich, all at no cost to the taxpayer. Instead of complaining XR should be holding this up as an example of responsible land management."