WAG Supported by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Following the submission of the Whiston Action Group Alternative Master Plan to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council supportive comments have been received from a national body, The Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Local villagers from Whiston Action Group, are critical of the District Council for failing to adequately consult with residents in the Churnet Valley. Council proposals to significantly increase tourism through the development of a series of tourist attractions along the valley do not sit comfortably with local people, who feel the proposals are excessive in scale for the sensitive nature of such a small compact valley. Nick Cresswell, the actions group’s communications officer said that:-
“Residents are concerned that the valley is going to be exploited for commercial gain. We are particularly opposed to proposals for Moneystone Quarry along Whiston Eaves Lane between Whiston and Oakamoor, where the imposition of 640 holiday lodges and a 100-120 bed hotel is totally outrageous in such a confined area. The scale of the proposals is driven solely by commercial interest with no regard for residents. If these excessive developments were allowed to go ahead there would be a severe impact on local residents in terms of traffic and degradation of what at present is a beautiful quiet country lane with great views and wildlife. To impose such a level of development would destroy the area’s peace and tranquillity that we should be conserving for future generations to enjoy.”
Whiston Action Group has responded to the recent Staffordshire Moorlands District Council public consultation by presenting a 50 page evidential document expressing concerns and demanding a new more inclusive consultation where the needs of local people are given greater consideration. Other groups from the valley have also expressed opposition to the council’s proposals during a recent consultation exercise. The district council’s website currently shows 184 pages of comments from the public on the master plan, the vast majority expressing views in opposition to the council’s proposals. Nick Cresswell said,
“The sheer weight of the public response must surely prompt conscientious district councillors to question the very basis of these commercially led proposals that are not in the interests of residents. They cannot help but see that the people of the Staffordshire Moorlands are not happy with what is proposed. They should require the planning officers to conduct a complete review, from a starting point of full public consultation.”
He went on to explain that the growing disquiet amongst residents across a wide area has now attracted the attention of a nationally respected campaign body, The Council to Protect Rural England. Nick Cresswell highlighted the recognition Whiston Action Group has received from the national body, saying:-
“Following our submission to the district council The Campaign to Protect Rural England has congratulated Whiston Action Group on its work, with the opinion that it represents the best kind of local involvement over the whole field of planning. CPRE considers it compliments and reflects much of CPRE’s countryside work, especially current concerns over the District Council’s Local Development Framework where it views with dismay the minimal regard being paid to changing social, economic and environmental conditions forecast to occur over the 20 year period of the plan. CPRE has made it clear to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council its views concerning the value scenically and environmentally of the Churnet Valley and its conviction that the Churnet Valley Master Plan must be environmentally driven.”
“Whiston Action Group is encouraged by the CPRE comments and will continue to vigorously press home our perfectly reasonable demand that the beauty and tranquillity of the quiet country lane between Whiston and Oakamoor be conserved for future generations to enjoy.”