LAST week, the IW Council planning committee took several hours of deliberation to reluctantly vote through the planning application for 473 new houses on farmland at Westridge.

The meeting was fraught and emotional, with protests from residents and supporters of the tenant dairy farming family demonstrating outside County Hall, and heartfelt speeches against the development.

However, when it comes to planning — especially of mass developments like Westridge — the laws and regulations are firmly on the side of the developers.

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The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was introduced by the Conservative government in 2012 and revised only this month, imposes housing quotas on local areas such as the Island and insists only a small, very limited set of conditions can lead to rejection of planning applications.

If a local council goes against these imposed rules, they are liable to see an appeal submitted by the developers with eventual costs running into tens of thousands.

Most recently, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stood on podiums and visited building sites dressed in the ubiquitous hard hat and hi-vis vests to boost his post-Covid “Build Build Build” policy.

Against this backdrop of Conservative leaders demanding greater house building, our councillors are forced into obeying national rules which favour housing developments.

Critical arguments against this particular development include protecting our heritage, wildlife and green spaces, our farmland and rural way of life, and to ensure we have food security and land for agriculture.

But, sadly, they are not classed as significant material grounds for rejection of an application according to the NPPF.

The spirited fight to protect Westridge Farm in the last few years was decent, right and well-meaning but destined to failure against the enforced laws which demand more house building.

Islanders are rightly angry that – yet again – another mass housing development has been granted and will see acres of productive farmland being carved up and Tarmaced over.

But do not get angry at local councillors. They did not write these laws, or impose these targets.

Get angry at the Conservative government who wrote these laws, and continue to fail to protect our precious countryside. They are the root of this misery, and their representatives deserve our scorn for being members of that party and allowing this to happen.