Dorset Wildlife Trust refutes MP’s claims over massive homes scheme

The West Dorset MP claimed on his website: “I fear that Dorset Wildlife Trust’s purchase of Lyscombe Farm will now enable the 3,500 home development north of Dorchester to happen.

“The proposal to build between 3,500 to 4,000 homes on greenfield land to the north of Dorchester risks becoming a reality, as housing developers can purchase nutrient mitigation credits to offset their developments.”

But Wildlife Trust chief executive Brian Bleese says there is no link between the two projects and if anything the farm purchase might weaken the case for Dorchester North.

Former Dorchester mayor Alistair Chisholm used this week’s annual town meeting to make similar claims about DWT and the housing proposals on a swathe of land stretching from the Weirs at Charminster to the Stinsford roundabout.

He said the amount of nutrient mitigation credits from the 830-acre Lyscombe Farm project, ten miles north of Dorchester, was ‘suspiciously close’ to the number of homes planned for Dorchester North.

“I am sure there is more to this than meets the eye and would like the town council to write to the Dorset Wildlife Trust… the Trust has a lot of respect but if it is seen to be getting in with the developers it won’t do them any good,” said the former councillor who stood down at the May elections.

Mr Chisholm has long been a prominent campaigner against the ‘Norchester’ scheme, as it is known, and was instrumental in persuading Dorchester Town Council to also oppose it.

Said DWT’s chief executive Mr Brian Bleese: “The link being made by some between the acquisition of Lyscombe and the proposed ‘North of Dorchester’ development is entirely misleading.

“Nutrient Credits generated by the Lyscombe purchase are not linked to any specific development and certainly not to ‘North of Dorchester’. 

“Such large development proposals would very likely seek to provide their own nutrient mitigation measures on site. 

“Rather, the nutrient credits arising from Lyscombe are likely to benefit smaller scale housing developments to meet local need. Indeed, it is possible that if sufficient suitable smaller schemes come forward, an argument for the development north of Dorchester might be weakened.”

Mr Bleese adds that nutrient neutrality impact is only one element to be considered through the planning process.

“The availability of nutrient credits does not in any way assure that planning permission would be forthcoming, and we would expect the local planning authority to fully consider the wider implications and impacts of any development proposal.  Any application for development would still have to go through all the assessments that it currently does, including other environmental impacts. Rather than providing a green light for anything, this nutrient neutrality scheme provides, in line with government policy, an additional layer of protection.”

He said the Lyscombe Nature Reserve will be managed to make more space for nature, and in time will become a haven for wildlife which supports nature recovery across the landscape.

In a statement issued to announce the purchase of the farm Natural England said it would be offering “nutrient credits” for sale to developers to offset the impact of building homes in the area, recouping taxpayers’ money spent on the farm.

It said the farm purchase, nature improvements planned there and the sale of the credits would enable about 3,700 new homes to be built in the Poole Harbour catchment area over the next few years while also protecting local water quality.

It added that more sustainable land management at the farm site would reduce agricultural nutrients together with other measures such as creating new wetlands to capture nutrients, as well as support wildlife.

The moves, it claimed, would reduce the amount of harmful nutrient pollution entering the waterways and reaching Poole Harbour, where it affects protected habitats for rare birds such as avocets and spoonbills.

More information about the farm project can be read on the DWT page –

Pic – MP Chris Loder at the Lyscombe Farm site.


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