Death by acronym!

As required by NPPF 2019, WC has made FMMs to WHSAP to include policy statements for the sites at H2.4, H2.5 and H2.6 which take full account of the TBMS and the BoA SAC.

This topic is now so full of acronyms, reference numbers and esoterica as to be completely incomprehensible. Sorry; here is a map and a summary:

There are Bechstein bats, thought to be the rarest mammal in Britain, that breed in Green Lane Wood to the east of Trowbridge but come to Southwick Country Park to feed. They use the green space between the town and Southwick as a flight corridor and they hunt along Lambrok Stream. Their winter hibernation roost, in caves near Bradford on Avon, is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of international importance.

Wiltshire Council has allocated three sites (H2.4, H2.5 and H2.6 – see map) for development in the bats’ flight corridor, all three of which abut Lambrok Stream. It is proposed that a total of 270 houses be built on these three sites.

Bechstein bat by Jan Svetlik (CC BY-SA-NC 3.0)

The bats are protected by national and international legislation so Wiltshire Council drafted the Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy (TBMS) to protect the bats’ maternity roosts in the woods to the east of the town, their feeding grounds, including Southwick Country Park, in the west, and the flight corridor between the two.

The Wiltshire Housing Site Allocation Plan (WHSAP) is now in its third or fourth avatar. There have been Further Main Modifications (FMM) made at the request of Examination Inspector Stephen Lee, and policies have been written for each site that make clear to future developers exactly how they will be required to adapt their plans to the needs of our bats.

This is excellent news. The policies focus on maintaining the green corridors to the south of the town as a link between habitats, on managing light pollution and on lifting flight corridors above the level of traffic. The biodiversity of Lambrok Stream and its large populations of flying insects gets a special mention as important feeding areas.

The Friends of Southwick Country Park (FoSCP) welcome all of these protections. The park, Lambrok Stream and its catchment area and biodiversity are too important to leave to the decisions of developers who have other priorities than conservation. Well done Wiltshire Council!

Please join us in assessing the WHSAP Schedule of Further Main Modifications. Add your comment to the public consultation:
+ online via the council’s consultation portal;
+ by email using this representation form and returned to spatialplanningpolicy@wiltshire.gov.uk (a word version of the representation form can be found on the council’s consultation portal);
+ or by post in writing to: Spatial Planning, Economic Development and Planning, Wiltshire Council, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8JN

More about the Further Main Modifications:

5 thoughts on “Death by acronym!

  1. I read somewhere that all three access roads will exit onto the A361 at Firs Hill. That will have to be a proper well lit roundabout. How are they going to reduce the lighting for the bats without compromising safety?

  2. At the moment, the tall hedges and mature trees on either side of Firs Hill lift the bats flight corridor over the road; this IS important because collision with traffic is a major cause of death and injury among bats. If there are to be three more junctions or a roundabout on the hill, how is this to be done without sacrificing trees and hedges and thus endangering the bats.

  3. These are important questions that need to be answered. Also have we yet discovered what ‘local amenity feature’ actually means.

    I have forwarded this post to a Wiltshire Council Ecologist and asked if the same protection for the Lambrok and the bats will be extended, in the event of further housing developments bordering the waterway in other parts of Southwick.

    1. No luck on the Local Amenity Feature yet and a closer examination of the FMM policies reveals more weasel words. The dreaded ENHANCE BIODIVERSITY raises its head again and it is joined by SENSITIVE DESIGN and NECESSARY INFRASTRUCTURE. Is it just laziness or are they trying to provide themselves with wriggle-room?

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