What can we believe about Clinton Devon Estates and bats?

The blog of August 24th – THE FIGHT TO PROTECT EAST BUDLEIGH BATS explains the determination of CDE to develop a barn in East Budleigh, home to 14 species of bats, some very rare including the Greater Horseshoe Bat.

On the other hand we see an employee of CDE receiving the Beer Bat Friendly Community Award in the Midweek Herald:

Why? Easy!

Beer Quarry Caves: no hope of using for housing development.
East Budleigh: every hope of using for housing development.

The fight to protect East Budleigh bats – but no need to fight in Beer

Owl says: And, of course, our old friends, Clinton Devon Estates is involved …

“Quiet, quaint and colourful, East Budleigh is a picture-perfect Devon village.

But behind the beautiful, flower-lined streets and cottages with thatched roofs and statue of world-famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, there is a simmering row which has enveloped much of the community.

It is a classic David-versus-Goliath story of concerned local residents against a major land developer, and revolves around bats, a barn and a new building.

Hidden behind some trees just off Middle Street sits The Pound – an old, dilapidated barn which apparently acquired its name as a shelter for stray animals in the area.

Ironically, it is the presence of animals there today which is causing the problem: it is believed to house at least 14 different species of bat.
Among their number are grey long-eared bats, which are known to be exceptionally rare in the UK. One estimate puts their number at just 1000 in the UK, while the Bat Conservation Trust claims they are ‘extremely rare’.
The barn is also believed to be home to at least one live badger sett, as well as hazel dormice.

Sitting on a pretty, grassy patch of land and shaded by horse chestnut trees, The Pound is a popular spot where East Budleigh residents can enjoy the wildlife. There is a bench were locals can sit and chat, while next to it is a trailer said to have been left by American airmen after World War Two which is now full of bright flowers in full bloom.

But The Pound’s prime spot also makes it ripe for developement.

East Budleigh – Raleigh’s birthplace – is an affluent town – according to Rightmove.com, the average value of each house sold this year was just under £480,000. It is little wonder then that landowners Clinton Devon Homes have ear-marked the area for major work. They applied for planning permission which would see The Pound’s barn knocked down and a large, modern house built in its place.

Local residents were furious, mounting stiff opposition to the move and appealing to keep the barn in order to protect the bats.

An initial East Devon District Council development management committee meeting saw councillors defer a decision pending additional information from Natural England about wildlife mitigation on the site. Various concessions were made – including a separate ‘bat barn’ for the barn’s current inhabitants – and, at a subsequent meeting in April, the green light was given by eight votes to five.

A ‘licence to kill’ was how one councillor described the decision.

Upon hearing the result, one member of the public shouted: “The bats will all be dead within six months.”

Many East Budleigh residents, though, are not giving up that easily. “It’s heart-breaking,” said Kathy Moyle. “We have so few natural areas around here. As well as the rare bats, there is also a badger set here, as well as hazel dormice. “We are battling with our hands tied behind our backs. “We have certainly put a thorn in their flesh but I am not sure it is enough. We all just want it to be left alone.”

In a remarkable act of defiance, when the plans were first announced Kathy set up the the East Budleigh Parish Nature and Wildlife Conservation Group to try and find out just what – and how many – animals call The Pound their home.

Now, every Friday night, a dedicated group go out to monitor the comings and goings.

Their findings included three grey long-eared bats, with evidence to suggest a maternity roost. In theory, this would strengthen their claim that the barn should not be knocked down, although Kathy is sceptical.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/village-being-sent-bat-shed-3242036

MEANWHILE, IN BEER:

“... Beer has been officially named a ‘Bat Friendly Community’ – only the second place in Devon to achieve the accolade.

The award is for the community’s work to conserve the endangered greater horseshoe bat. …

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/beer-commended-for-helping-safeguard-greater-horseshoe-bats-1-6227766

Seaton and Beer risk being cut off from Exeter by proposed bus service reduction

Press release:

“At Devon County Council yesterday, Seaton & Colyton’s Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, Martin Shaw, asked Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Transportation, if the Council would support peak services on the X52 bus service from Seaton and Beer to Exeter, which are threatened with closure by First Wessex.

First Wessex proposes to run only two off-peak buses a day in each direction from September. While better than nothing, these are inadequate for people in Seaton and Beer who want to work or study in Exeter or get to appointments at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Relying just on these services, people would barely be able to spend an hour in Exeter before having to get the bus back.

This is the only service direct from Seaton and Beer to the RD&E and this narrow window will not enable people to get to appointments. Using other services, people in Beer who want to get to the hospital will have to change twice in Seaton and Exeter Bus Station and the journey which currently takes an hour will take more than two hours each way, making it arduous and impractical for many people.

Councillor Croad initially replied to suggest that people could use these alternative routes. In a supplementary question, Councillor Shaw suggested that since hospital services are increasingly being centralised in the RD&E, the withdrawal of direct bus services discriminates against people without cars in communities like Seaton and Beer which are on the periphery of Devon. ‘Seaton is further from the RD&E than any other town in Devon and has the oldest population profile of any town in Devon’, he said. ‘We need direct public transport links to the acute hospital in Exeter.’

Councillor Croad then said that if Councillor Shaw would meet him afterwards, he would discuss the issue. When they talked, Councillor Croad agreed to look further at the question. The supplementary question and the reply can be seen from 1:47:50 to 1:49:15 on https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/283676.”

Green Wedges reinforced by planning decisions in eastern and western Seaton

EDDC’s refusal to allow ‘sprawling development in the countryside’, in refusing of the latest planning application for houses on the Seaton-Colyford Green Wedge, has been reinforced by an Inspector’s rejection of an appeal by a developer wanting to build on the western edge of Seaton.

In dismissing the appeal, over plans to build 3 houses in the garden of Pembroke House, Beer Road, the Inspector says:

The effect of the proposal would also be to consolidate built development along Beer Road and extend the sporadic line of dwellings into the countryside. The proposal would harmfully erode the positive contribution it currently makes to greening the settlement edge. Therefore … the development would result in harmful encroachment of urban sprawl from the settlement into the open countryside.’

The appeal decision is also good news for residents concerned to protect the field adjacent to the site from development. The inspector notes:

‘a large paddock between this property and the appeal site reveals views to the coast and surrounding landscape. This paddock represents a definite visual break, marking the point where the character of the lane changes from urban into open countryside.’