In these days of trying to protect areas where wildlife is in abundance and rare protected species exist, it seems abhorrent that the Prime Minister has given powers to planners to leapfrog all the protection these sites need.
"The wildlife deserve a place to live, not just humans"
It has empowered planners to speed up development for housing. The reason for this is to stop people who have legal vested interests in these sites from using the democratic process of objection and their absolute right to consultation.
An article was recently written by Dr Grace O’Donovan, in the Contract Journal commonly known as CJ2.
In it she writes about the need for ecological surveys to be carried out which would highlight numbers of protected species on a site. She also writes about the countryside rights of way act (crow 2000) and the wildlife and countryside act 1981, which mention the rights to protection of bats, badgers, water voles and doormice, reptiles and amphibians (such as great crested newts and slow worms), birds, plants, invertebrates and their nesting sites. The schedule prohibits intentional killing, injuring or taking of these species and also prohibits damage, destruction of, or "obstruction" of access to any structure or place for shelter that offers protection of the species.
She explains that at European level "The Conservation (Natural habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994" (commonly known as the habitats regulations), state that it is an offence to deliberately kill capture or disturb a European protected species, or to damage or destroy the breeding site or resting place of such an animal.
Dr O’Donovan then goes on to mention licences for planning and these cannot proceed without determining the population size of the species on that site. "I suggest that this cannot be carried out without the co-operation of the RSPB."
Developers and planners are generally not aware of some of these significant changes that these three sets of regulations state.
True environmentalists and local councillors have not exactly been nipped in the bud. They can write to the planning department highlighting these regulations and objecting to the legality of the planning decision under European law.
"Because The United Kingdom has a responsibility to translate the European directive into its own legislation, and – from a personal opinion – I would say that if this legislation has not been interpreted correctly under European law, then an application for a court injunction based on interpretation could delay a site from being developed for many years until the European court of justice can rule on it, or the European laws on protecting the environment can be clarified in detail."
On a more important note, there are protected bird species that use this site for nesting and the local RSPB can confirm this, therefore it would be illegal to disturb these birds during their stay in Clearwater drive wildlife area.
Getting the court injunction could be a hard and costly step to make but there are many more organisations facing the same problem. If people are truly worried that an area that is used for breeding or nesting is going to be disturbed then the injunction may save any encroachment by a developer.