I should like to submit the following questions to Cllr. Rosalie Walker at the meeting of the Cabinet on 27th November 2008.
DESTRUCTION OF WILDLIFE HABITAT AT ASHTON VALE
The City Council will be aware of the destruction of mature hedgerow and damage to adjacent land, which took place on the mornings of 5th and 6th September 2008 at the west end of Ashton Drive and along Colliters Brook, to the distress of local people.
No permission for the destruction of hedgerow was sought by the owners of the land and as a result the City Council was denied the opportunity to survey the site beforehand or to offer advice on the legal protection afforded to wildlife there.
Local people were not consulted, breaching the Guidelines in Planning Policy Statement 9. If they had been consulted they would have been able to provide information about the wildlife species to be found in the area, which included foxes, deer, many varieties of water and hedgerow birds, amphibians, badgers and signs of otters and water voles as well as, of course,hedgerow, wetland and meadow plants.
Many species are of course protected under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Habitats Directive, Conservation (Natural habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 and other regulations.
Otters, badgers, water voles and crested newts have specific protective legislation.
The City Council has a duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity and this is recognised in the Biodiversity Action Plan, which particularly mentions protection for water voles and otters.
What steps are being taken by the City Council to
a) prosecute those responsible for these breaches of the law and acts of environmental vandalism and
b) prevent further similar acts by irresponsible developers of land, which may be inhabited by important wildlife species?
Will the City Council offer assistance to the local people of Ashton Vale who want restoration of as much of the habitat as possible?
TESS GREEN, SOUTHVILLE