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Protesters Defend Ashton Green Belt

Keep Ashton Green - An Ashton-In-Makerfield based group has campaigned in Ashton Town Centre on Saturday against plans for a 40 acre extension of the South Lancs Industrial Estate, which the campaigners say will infringe on green belt land.

KAG intend to campaign every weekend to raise awareness and get local residents to sign objection letters to gain the attention of the council. They have raised concerns over air pollution, the environment and the effect on local infrastructure. The Developer Glenbrook has claimed the extension will bring 1500 jobs to the area.

KAG organiser David Brown said "We are promised jobs, but when companies move to these industrial units. they just bring their own staff anyway".

He said "Wigan council aspire to a higher-skilled, higher-paid workforce by 2026. And yet in the developers own documents. It says they will take advantage of the low paid workforce and the cheap labour".

Land designated as Green Belt in England in 2021 was estimated at 1,614,000 hectares, around 12.4% of the land area of England. This was a decrease of 1,750 hectares - 0.1% - from the year before. Wigan Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. The council’s website states "Climate change has been identified as the most substantial threat to our economy and public health ever seen. And that "the level of warming is dependent on what we do today".

Sarah Hancock said "I think it's really irresponsible to build on greenbelt land during a climate crisis. And I can’t believe we are even having to have this conversation. And it's almost as if the council hasn't woken up. Why aren’t they acting on a climate emergency? Why aren’t they listening to the science? Why aren’t they listening to the local people?".

"We have had a really positive response from local residents. A lot of people have said oh we have heard about this already. Or people that haven’t have gone yeah completely agree. We cannot take more traffic. It’s not fair in having this level of air pollution. And a lot of people have said it’s already affecting where their children are living. And particularly it being on Bolton road. Or they used to live there themselves. And it's the last of some of the green space in the area. So it's been really positive. We have run out of objection papers. We are getting low on leaflets".

The 2019 Public Health England figures show 4.1% of deaths a year in the North West of England can be linked to air pollution. Danny Fletcher, a Labour councillor said. "This year we released our first climate change report. It was so detailed. It was fantastic. I just feel we need to match up action with words." "But I'm confident my colleagues on the council will do what’s right."


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