Yesterday, Julian questioned the First Secretary of State, Dominic Raab, who was standing in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, about proposals to build over 500 houses on land adjoining the renowned nature reserve at Askham Bog.
Alluding to the Prime Minister’s own commitment to ‘lie down in front of the bulldozers’ to stop the expansion of Heathrow Airport, Julian joked whether he would join him in doing likewise for Askham Bog.
In the House of Commons Julian asked:
“Askham Bog, a world-renowned nature reserve in my constituency, has been described as “irreplaceable” by no less than Sir David Attenborough; yet it is threatened by proposals to build more than 500 houses on adjoining land. Will my right hon. Friend put in a good word with the Prime Minister to ask him to join me in lying down in front of the bulldozers to save that important piece of natural heritage?”
In response, Dominic Raab said that he fully recognises the strength of local feeling on this issue and went on to confirm:
“I thank my hon. Friend. I always put in a good word with the Prime Minister on his behalf, and I share his passion for preserving our precious natural habitats. Local community views are of course incredibly important to the local planning process; that is what our revised national planning policy framework provides. He will understand that I cannot comment on individual planning applications.”
After leaving the House of Commons, Julian said:
“I was disappointed to hear that the developer has chosen to appeal the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the development on land south of Moor Lane. Given the huge effort made by the local community to resist this controversial development, which we thought had paid off with the Planning Committee’s empathic decision to reject, it is very sad to see this called into question once again.
Whilst the First Secretary of State was unable to comment on the individual application, I have been encouraged by the Government’s renewed commitment to conserving the natural environment and involving local people in the planning process. There is widespread recognition that Askham Bog is a site of unique ecological importance and I hope that this will be reflected in a final decision by the Planning Inspectorate to not put this at risk.”