Sir – The Friends of Lye Valley were bitterly disappointed at the east area planning committee decision to develop Warren Meadow, the crucial rainwater catchment and infiltration area for the springs that feed the Lye Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) fen. It is also the informal play area for Town Furze estate families, including special needs children.

The proposed ‘mitigation measures’ – Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) – won’t work. They have not been proved to work in this unique situation and certainly will not work in perpetuity.

They do not take account of the fragility and complexity of the Lye Valley fen, the rarest habitat in England, which the council owns, and to which it has a duty of care. There are only 19 hectares of such fen in all England with 1.5 hectares in Headington. The decision hinged on Natural England’s no objection to development.

Was this a safe decision? But Natural England has no objection to 98% of the planning applications impacting on SSSIs put before them. Is their judgement impartial and scientifically based? Can it be relied upon? Or, as a central Government-funded organisation, does it simply reflect the priorities of Government – development at any cost?

Judy Webb
And the committee of the Friends of Lye Valley