How can the Proposed Plan best protect prime agricultural land to support food security whilst allowing some development at the edge of towns?
We consider that the protection of prime agricultural land in the Carse of Gowrie generally and in the Braes of the Carse area specifically should be of prime concern both in TAYplan and in P & K’s Local Development Plan. This area has productive fields that, in the main are good quality and cropped intensively. They provide employment for farmers, farmer workers, food processors and shops providing local produce. On a local basis there are therefore sound financial reasons why such agricultural land should now be protected and retained. There are also many important non-financial reasons why the retention of agricultural land is important. The Braes of the Carse area provides a unique combination of gently undulating farmland with hedges and field boundary trees, mixed woodland and historic orchards. We consider that the rural landscape requires protection and further comments are made in response to Q13 in this connection.
The authorities involved in TAYplan make play of their “green” credentials and we would suggest that issues of sustainability will become of increasing importance and concern in the future. We believe that locally produced food will play an increasingly important part of our future economy. This will be of not only local but also national and global importance. To allow housing or other development on our prime agricultural land resulting in its permanent loss would run contrary to the authorities’ own avowed green ethos and widely held current thinking as it would have detrimental effects on sustainability and increased food miles.
Do you agree that the settlements identified in figure 9.1 are the region’s Principal Settlements?
Which Spatial Strategy Option do you think the Proposed Plan should include?
Please tell us why you have chosen this option
We are very strongly of the opinion that Strategy A should be included in the Proposed Plan for the following reasons.
(a) We are all aware of current economic climate and it is generally accepted that this is unlikely to improve in the short to medium term. If this assumption is correct it will be absolutely vital that all money spent on costly infrastructure required for future development is spent so as to maximise benefit. Strategy A focuses development on Dundee and Perth where the existing infrastructure could be expanded and improved in the most cost effective manner. Strategy A would maximise the ability to deliver development and transport infrastructure that would have economic benefits to the wider area and would result in development in areas best suited for it.
(b) The Carse of Gowrie, and in particular the Braes of the Carse, is an area of remarkable natural beauty of which we should be proud. It provides a unique combination of gently undulating fertile farmland with hedges and field boundary trees, a network of predominantly unclassified roads with scattered trees, shrubs and wild flowers, large estates including Fingask and Rossie Priory both Designated Landscapes, mixed woodland and historic orchards. It is an area where, particularly north of the A90, villages have by and large retained their original character. They fit well into the existing landscape, many houses fronting directly on to the unclassified single track road network and villages nestled into the valleys or at the foothills of the Braes. These hamlets have a long established sense of place and community and have evolved sympathetically in their rural setting. These are places that have evolved a characteristic form of development that cannot be replicated on a large scale and deserve to be cherished and conserved not expanded to the prejudice of existing and future generations of residents and visitors. The accepted need to develop requires to be balanced with the need to preserve the historic and the natural environment. We consider that there is adequate land capacity for growth in the existing Principal Settlements and are extremely concerned that Strategy B would result in over development in the Carse of Gowrie corridor disregarding its rural situation. The danger would be that a vast anonymous development could be created lacking any pivotal points and completely out of keeping with the small communities in the area.
(c) The Carse of Gowrie is an area of great biodiversity including designated areas on the River Tay. There is significant land capacity within the Principal Settlements and therefore no need to develop in areas with existing nature conservation interest and which would be contrary to the Biodiversity Action Plan.
(d) Strategy A reduces the contribution to climate change as it reduces the need to travel. Development of the Carse of Gowrie as envisaged in Strategy B would inevitably increase travel demand as there are limited local services and most residents work and socialise in either Perth or Dundee. There is a limited public transport system and inevitably there would be an increased car use with its detrimental effects on the environment with carbon emissions. The existing roads infrastructure in the Carse, and in particular in the Braes of the Carse area is totally inadequate for any significant development.
(e)We have already mentioned (in response to Q8) the importance that we feel locally produced food will have to our future economy and Strategy B, which countenances significant development of the Carse of Gowrie for housing with the consequent permanent loss of prime agricultural land, would reduce our ability to provide local produce and would not deliver sustainable development or promote sustainable food security.
(f) We do not consider that significant development in the Carse of Gowrie is appropriate due to the risk of flooding. The Strategic Environmental Assessment indicates that large areas within the Carse are already at medium to high flood risk which would increase with any sea level rise. The land north of the Higher Carse road is steeply rising land and its valleys form the route for the natural water courses that run off into the flood plain. As a result of the topography and soils the flood plain land has significant water run offs and this results in regular flooding. In some areas the existing drainage system and the ancient “Pows” cannot cope with the existing water and consequently there are problems with repeated flooding and serious drainage issues that affect both residential property and agricultural land, inspite of much money spent on maintenance of these systems. As well as risk to any new development we are concerned that increased water run-off would exacerbate existing problem areas. With climate change we are told that rainfall is likely to increase and the Carse therefore has the twin threat of flooding from rising sea levels and increased rainfall. Schemes to protect areas from all types of flooding are costly and, as stated previously, in the current and likely future economic climate optimising investment is key. Money spent to alleviate flood risk in terms of Strategy A would maximise its benefit.
To summarise, we wish to fully endorse each of the reasons given in the MIR justifying Strategy A as the TAYplan preferred spatial strategy.
If you would like to make any other comments please do so.
As a general principle we feel that development of existing small settlements should not encroach on agricultural land and that the pace and scale of all development should always be appropriate to the existing character and density of the settlement so that such small settlements are not “swamped” and they retain their sense of community.