TV NATURALIST Chris Packham has branded plans for housing in Hampshire as a “piece of eco-vandalism”.
The plans are known as options B and C in the borough’s Local Plan and propose building houses near ancient woodland such as Stoke Park Woods, Upper Barn and Crowdhill Copse woods.
If plans are approved, the area may also see a new access road going through open countryside close to the River Itchen.
The presenter of BBC’s Springwatch has now backed the campaign of a group called Action against Destructive Development Eastleigh (ADD), set up to fight options B and C.
He said: “It is desperately important that people get behind the campaign to prevent this piece of eco-vandalism.
“The council is guilty of shabby politics. The plans are bad for wildlife and bad for humans. Of course we need houses, but there are better places in the borough to build them. Green space is an essential component to a happy and healthy life.”
Mr Packham, who was born in Southampton, said that if plans go ahead, the South Downs national park will suffer from a “dramatic increase” in traffic and pollution.
“The human race will not survive if it treats wildlife and the environment in this way. This is short-sighted short-termism motivated by ill-informed, ill-educated people who care little for their children’s and grand children’s futures,” he said.
As previously reported, Keith Taylor, member of the European Parliament, said that the planned homes could impact the River Itchen and that failing to look after the river could mean the UK facing charges in the EU’s Court of Justice.
The proposed housing development has also been opposed by the Woodland Trust which hosted a visit with Eastleigh MP Mims Davies to Upper Barn and Crowdhill Copse woods.
The Government has recently signalled its intention to improve protection for ancient woodland in the country, and Ms Davies said: “There is only two percent of ancient woodland in the UK and I am pleased that the Government is proposing measures to protect this. I am determined to be at the forefront of these to safeguard this precious environment.”
Mark Baylis, 64, member of ADD, said the development could also undermine the identity of the villages. He said: “We appeal to the council to avoid choosing a plan that would cause the maximum damage to the environment.
“It would damage the park because buildings will be close to the park. The villages will lose their identity and they will no longer feel like villages.”
Eastleigh Borough Council had not commented when the Daily Echo went to press.