The draft Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy was published yesterday, February 21st. It contains information and proposals that will certainly be significant to both the WHSAP Examination and to RPS’s application to develop the Church Lane site.
Apparently 14 of the UK’s 18 species of bats have been identified around Trowbridge, including greater horseshoe, lesser horseshoe, Bechstein’s and barbastelle bats, all of which are protected under Annex II of the European Habitats Directive and the Bradford on Avon Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
It is proposed that the areas around Trowbridge’s known bat roosts be divided into zones of protection: red, yellow and grey. In the red zone, permission to develop will be very unlikely and in the yellow zone significant mitigation will be required. There is a map on page 36 which shows SCP and the sites at Church Lane, Upper Studley and Southwick Court all to be in the yellow zone.
In the yellow zone a developer will be required to undertake:
- early pre-application discussions
- a full season of bat survey from April to October
- extensive on-site mitigation with significant swathes of habitat retained and enhanced for bats with adequate buffer zones
- careful and early design of lighting to achieve dark zones for bats
- a financial contribution to strategic bat mitigation.
At first it appears that an outline plan, as has been put forward by RPS for the Church Lane site, will not do. But there is the issue of settlement boundaries; it is hard to tell from the TBMS’s map but it looks as if the yellow zone does not cross over the present settlement boundary. Part of the Schedule of Changes to WHSAP re-draws the settlement boundaries so that they run along Lambrok Stream and include the Church Lane and Upper Studley sites into the Trowbridge settlement. Will this put them outside the protection of the TBMS’s yellow zone despite the evidence that they are important habitat?
There are a lot of questions and there will be a period of public consultation that will end at 5pm on Thursday March 21st. We need to make sure that we have answers to our questions before this consultation is over. The Schedule of Changes to WHSAP is supposed to be taking the mitigation strategy into consideration and they have assured the Inspector, who will begin the final stages of his examination on Aril 2nd, that it will be in place before his decision is made. The timetable seems tight and rushed and filled with room for error.
Documents we have submitted to the WHSAP application are on the main menu.
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