PLANS to cover an ancient Forest of Dean landscape in 50 acres of polythene have been rejected.
Polytunnels and reservoirs for the production of asparagus were earmarked for land between Redmarley, Bromsberrow and Dymock – an area which has an “important place in literary history”, objectors said.
Marion Shoard, who represents the Friends of Dymock Poets, said the area is linked to America’s most famous poet Robert Frost and draws hundreds of tourists from across the Atlantic. She was one of several placard-carrying protesters at Forest of Dean District Council yesterday, where planners threw out the proposals.
“The landscape is especially attractive to Americans visiting today and an excellent example of the English countryside – a traditional small-scale blend of field, wood, copse and hedgerow,” Miss Shoard said.
“The scheme for which planning consent is sought would strike a dagger through the heart of this vision. The construction of reservoirs and concrete spillways together with the complete covering of an area equivalent to 28 football pitches in polythene tunnels would mean that what is currently countryside would cease to exist at all.”
She told councillors: “We urge you to recognise this common ownership, enable the area to continue to enthral visitors from far and wide and reject a proposal that the former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion dubbed ‘a horrendous act of vandalism’.”
Seven members of the planning committee voted to reject the scheme while four others supported it and the rest abstained. The rejection was met with applause from the public.
Applicant Cobrey Farms hoped to build polytunnels, create a sedimentation pond and two reservoirs which would have covered a total area of 25.4 hectares.
Henry Chinn, representing the applicant, told the committee that the scheme offers “significant environmental and economical benefits, including the creation of tens of full- and part-time jobs”.
He said the scheme has “gained enthusiastic support from the Environment Agency”. Severn Trent Water did not object either.
Mr Chinn said a report by the Independent Carbon Trust concluded that growing 200 tonnes of asparagus will save 1,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with flying it in from Peru.
The reservoirs and sedimentation ponds are required for the irrigation of asparagus beds with a desired capacity of 17 million gallons.
Councillor Jane Horne said: “Do we, as a council, want to be responsible for what can only be described as desecration? I move refusal.
“It will destroy what historically is something out of this world. It is a source of tremendous tourism.”