Packed public meeting boosts homes battle fighting fund

Wildlife experts are being recruited to help fight

Nearly 200 people crammed into a public meeting in Leighton to protest about plans to build a vast new housing estate in west Linslade.

The meeting, at the Royal British Legion's headquarters in West Street, had been organised bySouth Beds Friends of the Earth who claim the site is a valuable wildlife resource.

South West Beds MP Andrew Selous had dashed from the House of Commons to attend the meeting.

Alongside him was Aylesbury Vale District Council's planning spokesman,Councillor Carole Paternoster, who made it clear that her district's housing policiesdid notsupport the development.

Councillor Tom Nicols, chairman of the South Beds and Luton joint committee told the meeting his group, charged with finding space for 43,000 new homes in the district, had dismissed the Linslade land as unsuitable.

Councillor Brian Sadler, leader of the Leighton-Linslade Town Council, told the meeting that the Boundaries Commission had been asked to look at the Bucks protrusion in 1990 and also in 2004 and had declined, saying the site was too small to justify the time and expense.

Victoria Harvey of South Beds Friends of the Earth said powerful Europeanwildife laws may save the site and they launched a 4,000 fund to draft in experts. The group wants to hire Charlie Hopkins, from environmental solicitors EarthRights, who specialise in green battles.

Top bat expert Dr John Altringham, professor of bio-mechanics at Leeds University, is also being recruited.

A collection at the end of the meeting raised 400 towards legal costs while a Linslade residents' association pledged another 1,000.

Pete Jardine ofSouth Beds FoE said: "The land at western Linslade has been farmed sensitively for generations. It hasn't been subjected to agrichemicals and still has a rich wildlife. It is crucial that we save it for future generations."

For more information about the FoE campaign visit www.southbedsfoe.co.uk