Councillors debate what a freeport will mean

Councillors in South Hams were asked to choose between sheep and jobs  – including an exchange about the relative merits of eating grass or money – during a debate about the planned Plymouth and South Devon Freeport.

They were discussing the need to acquire land for the proposed Langage Energy Park through compulsory purchase orders (CPO).

In April, South Hams District Council (SHDC) agreed to take part in the freeport project, which involves Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon.

Freeports are areas where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. Imports can enter with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs.

During Thursday’s full council meeting [22 September] members debated a recommendation to approve an area of land next to the A38 at Langage which may need to be obtained by compulsory purchase.

The legal costs for this could reach £350,000.

Green Party councillor for Dartington and Staverton, Jacqi Hodgson, criticised the plan, suggesting the land could be better used.

She said: “We need the land that we have for food, if we’re going to reduce our carbon footprint as massively as we need to, and we’re going to need all the land we can to grow our food.

“And I know this is all about money, but as they always say, ‘you can’t actually eat money.’

“I would just ask, if we’re meant to be requiring net biodiversity gain, how are they going to do that by converting green-field land that’s currently supporting sheep farming and food production?”

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