East Budleigh – rare bats or bulldozers? Special council meeting 7 November 2018

Clinton Devon Estates – which frequently touts its so-called environmental credentials – now has a difficult choice to make in East Budleigh – as does East Devon District Council.

A short notice special meeting of East Budleigh Parish Council has been called for 7pm on Tuesday 6 November to discuss the findings below which will bring into sharp relief a pressing question: which is most important: environmental sustainability and bio-diversity or cold, hard profit?

The East Budleigh Parish Wildlife Protection and Conservation Group was formed earlier this year to try to save what were thought to be 11 species of bat from having their habitat destroyed as a result of 18/1464/FUL — Demolition of existing barn and construction of a single dwelling behind the Pound. As a result of their observations they have recorded as many as 14 of the 18 known species in the UK.

This not only confirms but extends the survey conducted by Richard Green Ecology between 2012 and 2017 for Clinton Devon Estates (CDE). This survey found: the rare Greater Horseshoe (roosting); Lesser Horseshoe (roosting); the very rare Grey Long Earned (roosting); Natterer (roosting); Soprano and Pipistrelle (roosting). These findings make this site one of the most species rich in the County.

Of these, the finding of Grey Long Eared, Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats are, perhaps, the most exciting as they are some of the rarest bat species in the UK.

EDDC, in order no doubt to inform the DMC, has just published an independent review of the CDE commissioned Richard Green ecology report. We the ratepayers have paid for this review and Owl wonders whether it represents value for money in these hard pressed times. All it appears to be, as is clear from the Terms of Reference, is a review of the 2012/2017 work done by Richard Green to see whether it was reasonable and in line with best practice, given the ecological constraints identified. Not surprisingly, since it was conducted by a reputable ecological survey firm, another equally reputable firm concludes it was fine.

This ratepayer funded review presents no new data to support or reject the more recent local finding of 14 bat species, indeed it couldn’t really do this because it was conducted too late in the year when bats are less active as they begin to hibernate and the surveyors didn’t venture onto private ground.

The original surveys were undertaken on 31 August and 10 September 2012 including a dusk bat emergence survey and placement of an automated bat detector in the barn between 11 and 17 September 2012, allowing recorded bat calls to be analysed. Further bat emergence surveys were undertaken on 25 May and 22 June 2016, and 31 July 2017. The East Budleigh Group have spent many evenings conducting observation using computer aided bat detectors this year, 2018.

One question not satisfactorily answered is whether the barn is being used as a maternity roost. This is particularly important as some species like the Grey Long Eared bat are so rare that research advice from the University of Bristol states that maternity roosts should not be destroyed under any circumstances as this would compromise the favourable conservation status of the species, particularly as research has shown maternity roosts of this species do not respond to mitigation measures.

In the UK, Grey Long-Eared bats tend to live in close proximity to human settlements and roost almost exclusively in man-made roosts making the barn in East Budleigh an important roost. The overall estimated population size is around 1000 making it one of the rarest of UK mammals. Its extinction risk is high due to its habitat specialisation of foraging close to or within the vegetation, its small foraging ranges and limited long distance dispersal ability is a result of its flight profile. There are only eight known maternity colonies left in the UK and females have only one pup a year. So there has to be one near the Pound.

Another question is whether the demolition and rebuild will destroy too much habitat so the bats will never return, despite “mitigation”. (When CDE developed the Budleigh Salterton allotment site their slow worm “mitigation” was a disaster, they were simply bulldozed away by mistake).

Surely we ought to be celebrating the discovery that East Budleigh has one of the most species diverse bat colonies in Devon rather than sending in the bulldozers – again.

Everyone involved would do well to read this recent article:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/03/stop-biodiversity-loss-or-we-could-face-our-own-extinction-warns-un

“Gove wasting his time” – “Wild Woodbury” responds to Blackhill Quarry incursion further into AONB

Press release:

“Michael Gove is Wasting his time!

Conservative Councillors Undermine Government Environmental plans

The Woodbury Common “Area 12” development in East Devon is a classic example of members of the conservative party undermining the leadership and the will of the electorate. The proposed development of factories within an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty caused a local outcry. There were 198 objections to the plans and 4 people supported the application. When the development was put to the planning committee the council chamber was packed with objectors. The plans were passed with 6 people voting in favour and 5 against. The 6 supporters were all Tory Councillors who were not only out of step with the wishes of the electorate but also showed a total disregard for Michael Gove’s 25-year Environmental Plan.

Michael Gove is wasting his time! He is being undermined by his own Party and would be more effective working for an organisation with real environmental integrity such as The Wildlife Trust. He may be the most progressive and forward thinking Conservative Secretary for the Environment that we have had in decades. He recently stated “Outside the EU we are going to make sure that our environment is enhanced and protected. We believe in a greener Britain.”

If he hasn’t been a closet environmentalist all his life he has learned very quickly. He has listened to the much maligned “so called experts” and taken their ideas onboard. He isn’t afraid of speaking out either. When Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Paris International Climate agreement most of the government were shuffling around looking at their shoes and scared to speak out in case they caused any offence. Michael however came out and condemned the move in his first speech after being returned to the cabinet. People have said that the new Tory “Green” policies that he is putting forward are just “vote bait” and that the conservatives are desperate to grab votes from the younger generation.

It is true that the younger generation in general tend to be greener than the traditional Tory voter, but they are also quite canny. It is not enough these days for a party to Talk the Talk, they will have to be seen to Walk the Walk if they are to get the youth vote. If the Tories don’t make good on their promises the next generation of voters will be even more disaffected about politics than the current ones. Plans for environmental initiatives like the bottle deposit scheme, banning single use plastics, and a switch to electric cars are very welcome, but until the legislation necessary to get them working is in place they are just a good idea and nothing more. Michael may have good intentions but after a year in the job the harsh reality is that he has changed very little.

Michaels downfall will not come because of criticism from environmental groups as most of the conservationists I talk to agree with his proposals. He is in step with most current thinking on environmental protection and is happy to express his own ideas. The document “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment” contains enough positive ideology to satisfy most environmental campaigners. The document is elegantly designed, and its contents has been carefully thought out. It covers a huge range of subjects: sustainable land use, enhancing the beauty of landscapes, ways of reducing pollution and waste, fishing policy that ensures seas return to health and fish stocks are replenished, climate change, and new forests. The document even covers wildlife crime, poaching and illegal wildlife trade beyond our borders.

The problem that Michael has is that the document is a vision and not legislation. It is a collection of really good ideas, but it is not law. When there is a conflict between potential industrial development and the environment the ideals will get thrown into the river like toxic waste. If there is a chance for a profit to be made Tory councils will always find ways to get around even the most stringent protections. The “Green Future” is not seen as a moral compass for development it is just viewed as a bit of a nuisance.”

“Un-Natural England! Industrial Development on Woodbury Common Agreed”

Reactions to the decision:

Yesterday at East Devon District Council the Planning Committee agreed to an area on Woodbury Common to be allowed to become an extension to an Engineering works. The application will allow the engineering plant to become twice as large.

Tony Bennett chair of “Wild Woodbury” responded to the news

“Area 12” Factory Development for Heavy Industry on Woodbury Common – I would like to thank everyone who campaigned to get this proposal thrown out. Sadly, the council voted to accept the submission.

There was a fantastic turnout for the meeting and I think it is fair to say everyone left feeling let down, angry, and betrayed. The floodgates are now open. This will probably be biggest development (apart from mineral extraction) to have taken place on Woodbury Common since the Doomsday book was written! A golden opportunity has been missed.”

The site known as area 12 was the processing and offices area for a large gravel and sand quarry which originally had been agreed back in 2003 to be returned to heathlands after a payment of £6.4M was paid to the landowners and operators in compensation for stopping mineral extraction and processing of materials due to the special status of the Pebblebed Heaths. However, following further temporary planning changes, it was later agreed that consideration would be allowed for Area 12 to be used for another purpose.

Most of the Existing Engineering buildings next to area 12 had been granted “stand alone” planning permission by the previous planning Authority in the early 1960s and 1970s, which preceded the area being designated an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”

The Application yesterday was submitted by the landowners Clinton Devon Estates to allow the expansion of the Engineering plant because of the “exceptional justification” and “economic importance” of allowing their tenant to expand the operational facilities at their site.

The Councillors that voted for the proposal where, Colin Brown, Brain Bailey, Paul Carter, David Key, Jim Night, and Helen Parr (all Conservative Councillors)

The Councillors that voted against the development where Ben Ingram, Susie Bond, Geoff Jung, and David Barratt (all Independent Councillors) and Bruce de Saram (Conservative.)

In a bizarre twist to the debate Councillor Paul Carter seemed to be against the proposal saying it was against the Planning Authorities planning policy and approval to this application may allow developments in inappropriate locations be approved in the future, but then voted for the proposal!

The Committee was advised by officers that although the application was against local policy two important consultees, the RSPB and Natural England both supported the Application.

Natural England said in their written response:

“It is not likely to have a significant effect on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Special Area of Conservation (SAC), East Devon Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) or East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).”

RSPB said in their response:

“Therefore, we feel that the alternative proposals proposed in the Ecological Appraisal Addendum (Richard Green Ecology, April 2018) are adequate to address the lost opportunity to restore the Blackhill Quarry application site.”

Further in Natural England’s response they requested an additional condition if the application was approved to “personalize” the application so the industrial site could only be used by the Blackhill Engineering or their parent company.

“However, given that the need is specific to Blackhill Engineering/Super Cat and is not a general need for development of industrial space in an otherwise un-spoilt and iconic part of the AONB Natural England recommend that, if you are minded to grant permission, you include a condition or planning obligation which ties the permission to occupancy by this company and requires decommissioning and restoration, as per the original minerals planning permission, should they vacate the site in the future.”

Therefore, this Outline Application which was approved yesterday allows Clinton Devon to submit a “Full Planning Application” for all the details of the Industrial expansion, but with a number of stringent conditions.

A substantial area (larger than Area 12) of managed woodland close to the development site will need to be cut down and returned to heathlands.

Also, that permission is specifically for the occupancy of Blackhill Engineering, if ever they vacated the site the area would be required to be decommissioned and restored as originally agreed by the mineral extraction license agreement.

However, this condition could not be applied to the existing Engineering units on the existing site.

Local residents are very disappointed with the decision taken yesterday by the Planning Committee and by the lack of support from Natural England and the RSPB, which seemed to have swayed the committee.

The Pebblebed Heaths are considered the “Crown Jewels” of this part of East Devon and over the years there have been many battles to preserve these heathlands. The use by the military, creating golf courses, new roads, quarrying, and intensive farming and forestry have all been a threat. It had been hoped with the changing attitudes and better environmental knowledge, National bodies such as Natural England and the RSPB would have supported local people in their endeavours to restrain the Industrial area from expanding on one of the most heavily protected locations in Europe.}

Clinton Devon Estates 1 – AONB 0

“Controversial plans to allow industrial units in a Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been narrowly approved.

The site at Blackhill Quarry, near Woodbury, housed quarry processing works but was due to be returned to its natural heathland state.

There were almost 200 objections, including the local parish council and ward member, to Clinton Devon Estates’ plans for 35,000 square feet of industrial space.

East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee was told there were “exceptional circumstances” and the proposal would create 71 highly-skilled engineering jobs.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-45330324

Blackhill Quarry: planning application at DMC 4 September 2018 10 am

Owl says: How unfortunate that people who work for a living may not be able to attend.

But how fortunate so many of the DMC members are long-retired and can be at Knowle at 10 am with no problem at all.

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990
PROPOSAL:
LOCATION:
Outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure (details of appearance, landscaping, scale and layout reserved for future consideration)

Blackhill Quarry Woodbury Exeter EX5 1HD

… the application has been placed on the agenda for consideration by the Council’s Development Management Committee at their meeting on 4 September 2018.

The meeting will take place at The Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Knowle, Sidmouth and is due to commence at 10am.”

CLINTON DEVON SERVE EVICTION NOTICE ON 11 SPECIES OF BAT

A new nature protection group has been formed in East Budleigh to try to save eleven species of bat from having their habitat destroyed. Six of these species are amongst the rarest found in Britain. The story has broken today simultaneously on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight, presented by Adrian Campbell, and in the Exmouth Journal.

Owl will comment after using the following Journal story to set the scene:

“Landowners have defended their plan to redevelop an area of land in East Budleigh amid concerns for wildlife living on the site.

Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) has applied for permission to demolish a barn at The Pound, in Lower Budeigh, and replace it with a new dwelling.

Residents have raised concerns about the bats that have traditionally called the barn their home.

There are also concerns about access to the site; it is argued to be through the centre of The Pound, which is claimed to be in the village’s built-up area boundary.

CDE say the new building will provide ‘conditions more suitable’ for bats, including a dedicated loft area and ground floor with free flight access for the animals.

Writing in objection to the application, Mr and Mrs Moyle said: “We should be proud that we have so many rare bats, including gray long-eared bats, which are very rare.

“Building this so-called bat house means we have no proof that the bats will use it.

“It is being built a long way from the barn, so we are likely to lose out rare bats.”

Another letter, from a Mrs Maynard, said: “This is an absolutely ridiculous and totally unnecessary attempt to develop what is at present is an extremely pretty corner of a very lovely village.”

A spokesman for Clinton Devon Estates said: “The new building, whilst smaller than the existing barn, has been designed to provide conditions more suitable for breeding bats in the summer; for example, it will have a slate roof to provide a warm loft, as opposed to a draughty metal shed. “It will also have a cool ground floor to provide fairly stable winter temperature and high humidity, with the aim of providing a potential winter roost.

“For horseshoe and long-eared bat species, a dedicated loft area and ground floor with free flight access will be provided.

“For crevice-dwelling bat species, roosting provision will be provided in various places within the bat barn, including bat slates, a raised ridge tile, timber cladding, a Schwegler bat tube and internal crevices.”

CDE providing a brand new Des. Res. for free? There must be a catch.

Owl fears for these bats.

Are they going to be sent away for a holiday by the sea whilst their ancient barn (oldest still standing in East Budleigh) is bulldozed away and their new bat loft constructed?

Temporary social housing is a non-starter. As mentioned in one of the Spotlight interviews, what are they going to do for food. They feed on moths but the overgrown habitat of the moths is also going to be bulldozed?

And how are they going to navigate when the trees they use for echo location have also been razed to the ground as well?

Owl has many, many bat friends who join it in its nocturnal foreys and is VERY protective of them.

However, for the status of Clinton Devon Estates environmental credentials see just a few recent Owl stories here (there are many more):

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/02/09/clinton-devon-estates-pr-team-working-overtime-on-blackhill-quarry/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/09/07/clinton-devon-estates-and-budleigh-hospital-garden-a-pr-nightmare-for-today-and-tomorrow/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/03/14/eddc-local-plan-not-fit-for-purpose-as-developer-and-clinton-devon-estates-challenge-succeeds-at-newton-poppleford/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/11/15/clinton-devon-estates-wants-to-make-it-easier-to-build-in-aonb/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/05/09/beer-officers-recommend-refusal-of-clinton-devon-estates-development-in-aonb/

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/08/04/east-budleigh-clinton-devon-5-houses-with-fourteen-parking-spaces-in-aonb-on-grade-1-agricultural-land/

Clinton Devon Estates corporate manslaughter court case begins

…”Clinton Devon Farms Partnership and 51-year-old George Perrott will both stand trial at Exeter Crown Court after denying charges of unlawful killing and failing to ensure the safety of an employee.

Amateur footballer Kevin Dorman, aged 25, died when a tractor which was towing a trailer, carrying six tons of grass cuttings, fell around 12 feet from a field into a sunken Devon lane.

He was working at Houghton Farm, Newton Poppleford, on May 19, 2014, when he was killed by the trailer which fell onto the cab of his tractor.

The court heard he had worked on the farm for about a year before his death.

Clinton Devon Farms Partnership, of Hawkerland Road, Colaton Raleigh, and Perrott, of Colebrook, Crediton, have both been accused of manslaughter.

They are alleged to have been grossly negligent in the maintenance and operation of the tractor and trailer.

They are also facing allegations under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the general health, safety and welfare of an employee.

Judge Paul Darlow set a timetable for the exchange of prosecution and defence papers and adjourned the case for a further preliminary hearing at Exeter Crown Court in September.

Clinton Devon Farms Partnership is a division of Clinton Devon Estates which manages 2,800 acres of organic farmland in the Lower Otter valley.

Clinton Devon Estates is Devon’s biggest private landowner with 17,000 acres in East and North Devon and 350 houses. It manages the holdings of Lord Clinton.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/farmer-and-landowners-in-court-for-manslaughter-over-sidmouth-tractor-driver-s-death-1-5610688