Ecology survey and assessment report
Planning application 20/00379/OUT’s Ecology Survey and Assessment Report has been arbitrarily divided into six separate documents. This makes it very difficult to read, particularly as the contents page is in the first document and thereafter there are no page numbers. Stick at it, though; we have found it as interesting for its omissions as it is for its findings
For instance, in Paragraph 3.30, in the third document, it is stated that:
Approximately 5 greater horseshoe roosts and up to 9 lesser horseshoe roosts, including a confirmed lesser horseshoe maternity roost, have been recorded within 4 km of the site. For the protection of these roosts, their exact locations have not been not revealed.
But it fails to mention the Bechstein bat roost in Southwick Country Park, the exact location of which we cannot reveal either. We can say that it is less than a kilometre from the nearest of the planned buildings and much closer than that to the proposed (and presumably well lit and fairly noisy) junction between the development’s access road and the A361.
All the pictures are by Jan Svetlik (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) flickr.com
Bechstein’s bat is one of the UK’s rarest and most endangered species; it is likely that there are no more than 1,500 individuals in the whole country. The species is so rare because its habitat is now so rare; it likes well established woodland with tall and mature oak trees, a dense canopy and an understorey containing some hazel, near water bodies. An almost perfect description of some areas of our park.
Bechstein’s bats have very quiet echolocation and are difficult to detect and differentiate from other Myotis species, so it is no surprise that the well-conducted acoustic surveys that were undertaken for the developers around Southwick Court found none. But they are there and the presence of a roost in the park has been properly documented, videoed and recorded.
During the summer, female Bechstein’s rarely travel more than a kilometre from their day roosts. This means that the bats that roost in the park will spend most of their summer foraging in an area that will include the fields around Southwick Court and the site (H2.6) on which Waddeton Park Ltd proposes to build 180 houses.
This is piecemeal, slow motion, fragmentation of vital bat habitat. The WHSAP sites to the south and east of Trowbridge, at Elm Grove and the White Horse business park as well as the three between Trowbridge and Southwick are in danger of closing the bats’ flight corridor entirely between the woods at Green Lane and Clanger, and Southwick Country Park.
AND … while we are on the subject: the Ecology Report says that [t]he proposed development area is approximately 6.7km north-west of the nearest composite [SAC] site in Winsley. It isn’t, it’s the other way round: the SAC site at Winsley is 6.7km north-west of the proposed development area.
Conservation status of Bechstein’s bats:
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. European Protected Species under Annex IV of the European Habitats Directive. Listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
More about this planning application: