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Clear land policy needed


DR. FRANCIS CHANDLER

Clear land policy needed

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I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR, neither am I in the habit of replying to, those who lack the testicular (or other) fortitude to reveal their identity, but instead hide behind a protective veil of anonymity.

However, I will make an exception and reply to the comment by A Voice In The Wilderness in the Saturday Sun of June 19.

The writer wonders why there were so few voices speaking about the “acquisition” of 22 acres of land at Buttals for the construction of a polo field compared to the compulsory acquisition of land at Brighton, currently under agriculture, for housing.

The difference is that the Brighton issue was brought before Parliament and was debated while, to my knowledge, there was no such debate on the polo field.

However, I trust that he/she was one of those “few voices” speaking on the Buttals polo field issue and I look forward to further “vigorous discussion” from him/her on the matter.

I gave my views in the Senate debate on the Brighton land, and through the media, I subsequently corrected the erroneous statements made to the effect that the Brighton land was either not arable or was not likely to go into agriculture, since I could categorically state it was actually under agriculture.

I was not aware that there were many other “voices” on the issue. As to what became of “the sheep farming that was hinted at in the early stages of the acquisition at Buttals”, I recommend asking the owner of the Buttals property, as he has not informed me of his past, present or future plans for the property.

I am puzzled though, why the writer did not mention the highly publicised development of 220 acres of agricultural land at Pickering. I wholeheartedly agree with development for St Lucy, but we don’t need to destroy good agricultural land to do it.

What of the proposed Harrison Point development approved by Parliament about three years ago? Is that to die a natural death, and better agricultural land be taken out for another development project? The Prime Minister, as reported in the June 20 Sunday Sun, states that the project is consistent with the Physical Development Plan.

Well, certainly not the part of the plan which indicates that non-agricultural uses in the agricultural areas are only permitted in accordance with a number of policies, including “an amendment to the Physical Development Plan where the land area is greater than ten hectares…”.

I would have assumed that such an amendment would have had to go before Parliament – but of course it may be one of the many things which comes before Parliament for regularisation years after the fact.

The Prime Minister is also reported as describing the project as the delivery of a major promise made in the February 2008 Throne Speech.

Well, I remember another promise made in that Throne Speech which was (my government) “will introduce the Agricultural Protection Act that will require a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament for a change of use of land from agriculture”.

That seems to have gone by the wayside. What we need is a clear land use policy that designates a certain area of land for agriculture and clearly states exactly where this is, and to be assured this policy does not change whenever it is convenient.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the format of the Physical Development Plan is designed to confuse and the policies stated therein are about as clear as mud – but then of course, that can be convenient in certain circumstances.

I will continue to stand behind what I believe but I too feel like a “voice crying in the wilderness”.

DR. FRANCIS CHANDLER

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