Assessing Wiltshire’s housing plan

Let’s go back to the documents that were submitted to the Secretary of State on July 31st: in that list are Sustainability Appraisal Documents, among which is Annex 1 A9 Trowbridge.

In its complicated and un-indexed 209 pages, Annex 1 A9 Trowbridge assesses the ability of the WHSAP sites in Trowbridge to meet twelve objectives. The first of those objectives is: to protect and enhance all biodiversity and geological features and avoid irreversible losses.

The three sites that concern FoSCP are those that abut Lambrok Stream; they are Church Lane (site 1021), Upper Studley (site 3260) and Southwick Court (site 3565). This part of the document begins on page 139.

The development of all three sites are assessed as potentially contributing towards habitat continuity with increased linkages to habitat corridors; planners are urged to avoid habitat fragmentation including prejudicing future biodiversity restoration.  But the emphasis, all the way through the document is on meeting the EU Habitat Regulations, particularly as they pertain to the bats of the Bath & Bradford on Avon Special Area of Conservation.

The Lambrok’s floodplain is taken into consideration, and the stream’s function as a part of the green corridor between Green Lane Wood’s bat roosts and Southwick Country Park’s feeding grounds. But the Lambrok as a source of biodiversity in its own right is scarcely mentioned. In fact, somewhere is this densely packed document, is the suggestion that the landscaping and buffering of housing developments around the Lambrok will contribute somehow to increased biodiversity.

Research has shown that urbanisation of waterways reduces populations of dragonflies and damselflies in almost all cases; the notion that housing development is somehow going to benefit our Odonata is absurd. Objective 1 is to protect and enhance all biodiversity and to avoid irreversible losses; in our opinion Objective 1 cannot be met in these three sites.

The Lambrok is small, often muddy and not in the least bit picturesque; in its lower reaches it is urbanised and full of rubbish. From the edge of the park, upstream for two kilometres, it runs through old grassland and is home and breeding habitat for at least seven species of dragonflies and damselflies, one of them (the scarce chaser) listed in Category 3 in the Red Data Book. Housing developments at Church Lane, Upper Studley, and Southwick Court will neither protect nor enhance biodiversity and no amount of mitigation will prevent irreversible losses.

FoSCP feels that the Lambrok Stream and its diverse biota need to be properly assessed before any of these three sites is allocated for development.


scarce chaser 2

Header picture: Scarce chaser by Wouter van der Ham (CC3.0)

More Odonata:

Scarce Chaser by Wouter van der Ham (CC3.0)


More on WHSAP:

Here and here


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