Development around Emer Bog

New developments around our nature reserves have big impacts on wildlife

The scale of development in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight is such that it is impossible for us to comment on all planning applications which put wildlife at risk. We need to prioritise; an obvious priority is to defend our nature reserves.

A nature reserve which is currently under threat from the impacts of development is Emer Bog. Emer is a relic of the once extensive Baddesley Common, one of the many historic heathlands that stretched from the New Forest to the Itchen Valley. At present Emer Bog sits in an island of countryside between Chandlers Ford, Romsey and North Baddesley.

We have recently mapped current development proposals around Emer Bog, these include those already submitted and developer aspirations. There are a suite of proposals (coloured blue) around the nature reserve (coloured red). The coloured contours on the map show distances from the reserve at 1, 3 and 5 km intervals. In late summer 2014 there were nearly 4400 new homes planned within 5km of Emer Bog, the majority within 3km.

Map of development around Emer Bog 2014

Development brings a variety of pressures on a neighbouring nature reserve. At Emer these range from securing the quality of water which feeds the bog to the impacts arising from the use of the reserve for informal recreation.

When we look at individual planning applications we need to consider both the merits of that application as well as the combined effects of many applications. In isolation an individual development may be less than ideal but something that can be managed for. The nature of the development industry is that we are seldom faced by a single spectacularly destructive proposal but more often by many smaller schemes which can add up to ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

South Hampshire is a major growth area with some 80,000 new homes planned over the next twenty years. Growth not only brings new homes but also places for people to work, improvements to our transport network and solar farms to generate the electricity to keep the lights on.

Emer Bog is just one of 86 sites managed by the Trust. It is simple to see the scale of the task. 

We comment where we can on individual planning applications affecting our nature reserves. Our preferred way to deal with these problems is to work with the local planning authorities when the strategy for development is being planned. That way we should not need to deal with every individual application However with the current development pressure we find we have to work at both the strategic and individual application levels.