Road To Nowhere: Greens Slam NES Green Belt Enterprise Zone

At the Corporate Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel held on 16th January, Sam Ross, the Green Party Councillor for Clutton and Farmborough, issued an important statement regarding the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (SVEZ). Councillor Ross highlighted significant concerns about the environmental impact, traffic congestion, and the potential adverse effects on local communities.

In the face of a pressing climate and nature emergency, the Green Group stresses its reservations about the necessity of an extensive out-of-town facility in the Somer Valley to boost employment. The group also concurs that such a development may lead to an increased reliance on car travel, exacerbating environmental challenges and undermining sustainable travel goals.

The Green Group is particularly alarmed by the apparent oversight in sustainable infrastructure planning, with insufficient provisions for cycle paths and alternative transportation methods. The reliance on external funding from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) for crucial infrastructure connections raises concerns about the project’s feasibility and commitment to sustainable development.

Councillor Ross emphasised the need for thoughtful consideration of the location, size, and type of employment sites in North East Somerset, and called for a comprehensive review to ensure that any development aligns with the skill base and employment opportunities required in the Somer Valley while adhering to the principles of the evolving Local Plan.

She concluded, “In both Midsomer Norton and Radstock there are retail and industrial units sat empty and in need of investment and/or redevelopment. By encouraging businesses to utilise these existing spaces the Council would save unnecessary green-field development, promote sustainable transport, reduce commute times, and breathe life into towns that are not reaching their full potential for business and local employment due to years of underinvestment.”

The Green Group urges Bath & North East Somerset Council to reconsider the SVEZ development in prioritising the well-being of our environment, the prosperity of local communities, and the imperative for sustainable, forward-thinking development.

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