Those of us who watched the Epping Forest District council meeting on webcam on February 8 were treated to an extraordinary spectacle of councillors having their cake and eating it.

Repeatedly, Tory councillors vowed to do all they could to avoid setting up a Clean Air Zone whilst at the same time urging members to support the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy of which a CAZ is the main plank.

Though all declared their love of the Forest and their concern for its health and survival, it seems that even a flawed mitigation strategy will do, if it gives the immediate go-ahead to large-scale developments in areas where they are known to put the Forest at risk.

Read more: Tories insist CAZ is 'last resort' as councillors vote to find alternative pollution plans

Accusing minority group councillors of 'playing politics' for wanting open debate on these issues, we learn that large scale planning applications now by-pass the Area Plans sub-committees, on which local councillors representing their areas sit, and go directly to the district-wide Development Committee, where they have a much smaller voice. Add to that, advice and documents relevant to this important debate have been withheld from minority group councillors. If that isn't 'playing politics', what is?

The council's impatience to press ahead now with large-scale building, before effective air pollution mitigation is approved as part of the Local Plan, is regrettable. Development mistakes are not easily reversed and must be lived with for generations.

Dorothy Paddon