The Daily Telegraph reports the Wildlife Trusts have called for a new ‘wildbelt’ designation that would allow land to be protected for nature. The Government has promised a radical shake-up of planning laws that it says will speed up development across the country by giving “automatic” permission to new homes and hospitals. But conservationists and rural groups fear a spread of low quality housing across the countryside which fails to protect wildlife or provide green spaces for everyone.
The Guardian reports the clearing of ancient woods for HS2 is to proceed this month after the high court refused an emergency injunction and judicial review of the government’s decision to proceed with the high-speed railway.
HS2’s felling of woodlands in spring when birds are nesting has been widely condemned by wildlife charities but the conservationist Chris Packham’s attempt to halt “enabling” works was rejected after the court decided there was “no real prospect of success” for a judicial review.
Photo by Birmingham Friends of the Earth under creative commons.
INEWS and THE TIMES report just days after a major report found two fifths of the UK’s plant and animal species are in decline, the wildlife presenter is spearheading a new campaign to boost nature. He wants to create a joined-up network of habitats that would give wildlife an opportunity to roam far more widely than they do at the moment.
This would allow numerous species that are often penned into small, isolated, areas with relatively little food and shelter to prosper by moving to more suitable habitats through a network of “wildlife corridors” or nature paths, linking one suitable territory to another.
The TELEGRAPH reports the RSPB has urged the government to ensure developers build bird boxes into new homes amid fears swift numbers are plummeting.
The small bird, whose distinctive wings make it look almost like an arrow in flight, nests in nooks and crannies in buildings after flying over 6,000 miles from Africa in the spring. They are one of the fastest birds in the world, able to reach up to 70mph and often not touching the ground for up to three years at a time. Numbers of the animal have dwindled to fewer than 90,000 pairs, down from 150,000 pairs two decades ago.
Swift at box photo by fs-phil under creative commons.
The BBC report property developers who deliberately demolished a house containing protected bats have been fined £18,000.
Jenna Kara, 29, and Tina Kara, 34, directors of Landrose Developments Ltd, started tearing down the bungalow in Stanmore, north-west London, in 2016.
The company pleaded guilty at Willesden Magistrates’ Court to damaging or destroying the breeding site.
The court heard the developers had pressed ahead with the demolition despite an expert reporting the site was home to soprano pipistrelle bats – a protected species in the UK and Europe.
Photo by Michelle Stiller under creative commons
The Guardian reports some developers are reviewing their policies after protests from environmentalists. A grassroots uprising is forcing builders and councils to remove netting over trees and hedgerows installed to prevent birds nesting and hindering their developments.
Environmentalists have condemned the practice and say it has exploded in scale this spring. The use of netting to prevent birds nesting in hedgerows and trees allows developers to get around the law that prevents the removal and damage of birds nests, and avoid delays to development caused by the nesting season.
The Times reports that a developer has been forced to remove netting placed around trees to prevent birds from nesting after coming under attack from neighbours and the writer Sir Philip Pullman.
Sladen Estates covered 11 trees with netting on a site near the River Wey in Guildford where it plans to build 361 student bedrooms, even though work has not yet started. Developers are banned from damaging bird nests so sometimes net trees off during the nesting season. However, Sladen admitted that it had no plans to start working on the site until the end of the year, long after the nesting season is over.
Proposed development that could have a detrimental impact has returned to the village, with Guildford Borough Council’s (GBC) proposals in the revised local plan. Policy A64 proposes 105 houses at the site between Flexford and Normandy.
We urge you to consider responding to the proposal before the deadline of Tuesday 23rd October (noon), 2018.
If approved this would almost certainly have a detrimental effect on our wildlife through removal of feeding grounds for wildlife and through the destruction of habitats. Development here could impact on the UK’s red listed yellowhammers, as well as barn owl and bat foraging, plus impact on freshwater, pasture and hedge habitats and create potential loss of habitat connectivity. This area is within the Wanborough and Normandy Woods and Meadows Biodiversity Opportunity Area.
The aim of Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) is to establish a strategic framework for conserving and enhancing biodiversity at a landscape-scale, making our wildlife more robust to changing climate and socio-economic pressures. Recognition of BOAs directly meets National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) policy for the planning system to contribute to international commitments for halting the overall decline in biodiversity, by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures. Safeguarding BOAs via local plans fulfills NPPF requirements to plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale.
This land has been offered for sale before and GBC only recently refused a planning application to have 9 houses built on it (which is currently under appeal). However, the government’s Planning Inspector challenged GBC recently to start building houses earlier in the Local Plan and thus this amendment has been proposed.
For more information and other considerations (such as erosion of Green Belt) of this proposal please refer to the Normandy Action Group’s website.
Guildford BC has rejected the proposal for 25 houses to be built on the Little Flexford Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
The proposed scheme’s material harm to the SNCI and potential for adverse effects on the Ash Ranges Special Protection Area (designated for its international importance as part of the Thames Basin heathlands) are two of the reasons for rejection, as well as the development being in the Green Belt and the impact on the character of the site and the surrounding area.
Please do report any interesting wildlife you see on the site or nearby as it helps to protect this important wildlife site.