Clinton Devon Estates strikes again

News from the East Budleigh Parish Conservation and Wildlife Protection Group:

Leaving for the development management committee on Tuesday the 12th Feb, where the fate of our rare bats was to be decided, members of our group (East Budleigh Parish Conservation and Wildlife Protection Group) were appalled and deeply saddened to see little left of ‘Frank’s patch’ in High Street, East Budleigh.

East Budleigh born and bred Frank Farr had run this patch of land on the High Street as plant nursery and smallholding for growing fruit and veg for 49 years until his death in 2011 in his late nineties.


Frank Farr with his ferrets Jim Lad & Ada at his veg stall (photo Simon Horn, Archant)

The site, as was, Frank himself, a much loved part of the village. Although Frank was a bit of a rogue, with a twinkle in his eye, you always knew you would never get ripped off as he sold his produce at the roadside. The weight of your purchase was always over not under, it was always quality, and you always got a wink, smile and wave as he saw you off.

Sadly after Frank passed away, it soon became overgrown. Cordoned off from sight, it was left to its own devices.

Recently, apparently, there has been one or two complaints about its appearance,

CDE’s answer, flatten it.

This ‘patch’, contained many rare trees and plants, including a rare walnut and a black oak to name but two.

There was no warning of this action, no survey carried out to see what wildlife was present, just an order to ‘clear it’.

Residents are very upset, one stating she can’t live here anymore because she can’t bear to see what CDE is doing to the village, even threatening to tie herself to the one remaining rare tree on Thursday morning before the workers resume the destruction.

This space has been earmarked for future building of a couple of hoses, but is outside the Parish built-up area boundary, so cannot be built on. So why was it flattened, why not sympathetically pruned and turned in to a memorial community garden in memory of a loveable rogue?

Why done on the day the group wouldn’t be present or have time to stop it?
Why within days of the group stopping the activity at the barn, only yards away? Coincidence?

You have to wonder if Lord Clinton himself, realises that his family name is getting a bad reputation.

For character sketch of this colourful old Devonian see:
https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/exmouth-life/tributes-2-20434/frank-farr-part-of-east-budleigh-s-heart-and-history-1-1006219

Bats (and Batmen and Batwomen) in East Budleigh – today’s development

Owl hears that, somewhat surprisingly, EDDC’s Development Management Committee voted to defer the bat habitat decision.

It also appears that yesterday’s activity in and around the barn, reported by Owl here:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/02/11/bats-in-east-budleigh-barn-cleared-24-hours-before-eddc-planning-committee-meets-to-decide-their-fate/

has been reported to the Police who have allocated a crime number to it.

Here is how it has bedn reported in the local newspaper:

“Campaigners fighting the proposed demolition of a known bat habitat in East Budleigh have been given ‘breathing space’.


Image: Archant, Daniel Wilkins

More than 20 members of a conservation group gathered outside Exmouth Town Hall this morning (Tuesday, February 12) ahead of a crucial meeting to decide the fate of an East Budleigh barn known to be home to rare and protected bats.

East Devon District Council’s development management committee decided to defer their decision pending additional information from Natural England about wildlife mitigation on the site.

Landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) is looking to knock down the barn and build a new dwelling on the site and has offered to build a separate ‘bat barn’ on the plot as mitigation.

Speaking after the meeting, Karen Alexander-Clarke, secretary of the East Budleigh Parish Conservation Group told The Journal this decision gives them ‘breathing space’ in their fight to protect the bats’ home.

The Pound, in East Budleigh, which is subject to a planning application to demolish a barn which is thought to be home to species of rare bats.

She also said they would be writing to Natural England to lobby them and ‘emphasise that there are councillors that feel as strongly as we do’.

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Brian Bailey also raised concerns over whether the bats would take to their new home.
He said: “The bats, I feel, have been served poorly because there is no guarantee what so ever that the bats will survive the demolition or would accept their new home.”

Cllr Geoff Jung said: “This is one house and one family that is going to benefit and how many bats and other wildlife are going to benefit?”

An independent ecology report commissioned by the council recommended that the mitigation being offered by CDE be accepted.

Cllr Mark Williamson said he did not feel confident that, if they refused the application and CDE appealed, the Planning Inspectorate would back their original decision.

He said: “As we do frequently, we would look to our statutory consultees to guide us.

“Natural England is giving quite detailed guidance and they recommend the planning authority follow advice from the ecologist.”

Councillors voted in favour of deferring the application pending information from Natural England on the suitability of the proposed ‘bat barn’.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-budleigh-bat-barn-demolition-plan-deferred-1-5889261

Bats versus Building [and Clinton Devon Estates] in East Budleigh

From the East Budleigh Parish Conservation and Wildlife Protection Group.

What they do not mention is that the barn is owned by Clinton Devon Estates – the company that puffs itself up as “gold standard” when it comes to conservation …..

Planning application, 18/1464/ful. The Pound, East Budleigh.

Since April 2018, the East Budleigh Parish conservation and wildlife protection group, have sought to do its utmost to protect the rare, and the not so rare species of Bat, as well as the other wildlife that inhabit the barn and adjacent green space known as ‘the Pound’ in East Budleigh.

All through this application we have researched extensively, bat law, wildlife protection, mitigation studies, European and domestic legislation and directives from the Bat conservation trust, the Back from the brink project, and Natural England to name but three.

Each body has standing advice on how to protect and conserve EPS (European Protected Species). We have shared that information with all the concerned councillors from parish to district level.

The advice from Natural England and Conservation bodies state that for rare species, the avoidance method should be taken, yet here we are fighting for those methods and laws designed to protect to be implemented.

Through our many conversations with various conservation trusts, the overwhelming response has been, “the laws are there to protect these species, if the LPA follow the directives and adhere to legislation, permission will be denied.”

Having studied the plans for mitigation, We have found shortcomings in all of the mitigation offered by the agent on this application, and areas of complete misunderstanding, or disregard for the laws that are supposed to protect all wildlife. So much so, that this contentious application has reached the next stage of the planning….. the development management committee.

Getting the application to this point is a small victory for the wildlife, as we feel sure, that had we sat by and done nothing, by now, the site would have been levelled, the new house been built and the wildlife displaced, gone, or even worse, dead.(as suggested possible in Richard Greens ecology report) So we have done incredibly well to get this far.

Now…according to EDDC planning agenda, the application is recommended for approval with conditions. It is due to be discussed at the next DMC, on

Tuesday February 12th at
11AM, in the
Council chamber at Exmouth town hall.

But, of course, as is usual in a ‘democracy’, free speech and independent opinion is subject to what the ‘powers that be’, decide on as to what can be discussed and what should be taken in to consideration, so that an informed decision and vote can be made!

During this long process, it has been, and still is, the groups aim to get the best possible outcome for our precious, rare wildlife and our local green space.

We are putting forward the argument that:

1) the Pound is a significant site, regardless of numbers, with no less than four rare species of Bat,( with up to fourteen species recorded by ourselves), evidence of Hazel Dormice and an active Badger sett.

2) the mitigation measures are not adequate, with little to no evidence that these measures are successful for the rarer, disturbance intolerant, more light adverse species such as the Grey long-eared, Greater and lesser horseshoe Bats. An opinion upheld by DWT’s conservation manager in his ‘neutral’ letter to EDDC.

3) the lighting plan is not in line with current research provided by the bat conservation trust, nor the ILP,(institute of lighting professionals) suggesting the maximum light spill should not exceed 0.45 lux lumen on a moonless night. whereas the current proposed lighting plan stands at 0.95. so still more than double.

4) These species ARE protected by law, but human interest is, once again, being favoured above the interest and protection of rare species and local wildlife.

We are, teetering on approval being granted, everything hinging on a committee of councillors who may not be able to see the bigger picture. Which is, if we all stand by and do nothing to protect our local patch and its inhabitants, we will lose more and more green space, more and more species and biodiversity.

Now we may not be able to make a difference globally, but if we all made a stand for our own little corner, couldn’t we, wouldn’t we, make East Devon a better place to be, not only for our wildlife, but ourselves too?

PLEASE STAND WITH US ON THE 12th.

We are meeting at around

10.15am outside the town hall in Exmouth,

to hold a peaceful protest prior to the DMC. So if you have time, We would greatly appreciate your support to stand beside us and be a voice for East Budleighs wonderful wildlife.

EBPCWP Group
ebpcwpgroup@yahoo.com

CEO of Clinton Devon Estates shows how to be a gamekeeper and poacher at the same time!

It seems that, to CDE CEO Varley it’s a case of “Don’t do as we do, do as we say”:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/11/04/east-budleigh-rare-bats-or-bulldozers-special-council-meeting-7-november-2018/

and the fact that they are happy to cut down vegetation wilky-nilly at Blackhill Quarry to expand the engineering company!

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/09/06/gove-wasting-his-time-wild-woodbury-responds-to-blackhill-quarry-incursion-further-into-aonb/

When it comes to Network Rail it seems things are totally different!

“Twigged: rail chiefs behind the misery of leaves on the line”

Leaves on the line have been causing misery for rail commuters for decades. Far from Network Rail solving it, however, the problem has become worse under the public company that runs the tracks.

A government review that is published today has revealed that delays caused by falling branches and leaves on the line have increased by two thirds since the start of the decade.

Network Rail’s failure to manage vegetation by the side of the 20,000-mile network had the “potential to impact as much on safety and performance as on biodiversity”, the review concluded.

There are about six million trees on Network Rail land, typically a boundary of 10 metres either side of the line, but the review, commissioned by the Department for Transport, said they were often viewed as an “afterthought”.
In 2009-10, there were 11,500 incidents of trees and branches falling on to lines, rising to almost 19,000 in 2017-18. Last year more than 1,750 trains were cancelled by falling trees. Separate figures showed that leaves on the line, which can cause train wheels to slip, caused 3,261 hours of delays last year, a 70 per cent rise in a decade.

John Varley, the chief executive of Clinton Devon Estates who led the review, said that management of vegetation had been “under-resourced for decades”. His team found that “overstretched resource and no dedicated budget results in the maintenance of line-side vegetation being squeezed by other priorities”. Network Rail has spent £40 million a year over the past four years on vegetation management, up from £15 million, but the company still has a huge backlog.

The company’s bosses also face losing their bonuses for over-running engineering work under new plans. The Office of Rail and Road said that senior staff could be required to surrender a proportion of performance-related pay, which totalled more than £52 million last year, to fund improvements.

Network Rail said that it welcomed the review’s findings and that it would provide a plan to implement its recommendations in the next six months.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

“Parish council has ‘stronger reservations’ about housing plans for East Budleigh bat habitat”

Owl says: Will EDDC’s old mates Clinton Devon Estates get their own way (as they so often do) or will conservation win the day? Hhmmm …

“Wildlife concerns have been raised over a plan to demolish the home of roosting rare bats in East Budleigh to make way for a new house.

An amended application by landowner Clinton Devon Estates to demolish a barn on an area of village green space known as ‘The Pound’ is seeking to construct a separate ‘bat barn’ on the site as mitigation for concerns raised for rare species of bats.

At an extraordinary parish council planning meeting held at the village hall, residents raised fears that lighting from the dwelling may deter bats from using their new habitat and the village could lose its rare bats.

Councillors, who previously supported the application, said they now had ‘stronger reservations’ about the proposal and want to see a lighting strategy put in place prior to development. They also want a period of 12 months between the bat barn and the house being built to allow bats to get used to their new home.

Village resident Cathy Moyle chairs the East Budleigh Parish Wildlife Conversation Group set up earlier this year to fight the ‘destruction’ of the wildlife habitat.

Speaking at the meeting, she said: “If the light impact cannot be resolved, then in accordance with legislation, the planning permission should be refused.

“If, unfortunately, the application does get approved, then conditions should be placed on the planning permission that no artificial external lighting should be erected by future occupants.

“As the application stands, there is likely to be a significant adverse impact on the conservation status of, in particular, the international rare greater and lesser horseshoe and the exceptionally rare grey long-eared bat.”

Karen Alexander-Clarke, secretary of the conservation group, added: “We have incredibly rare bats in our village, they are European-protected species and there is no mitigation measure that is guaranteed to be successful.

“Clinton Devon Estates are involved with many conservation projects and seems to be incredibly proud of what they are doing for bats in the rest of the county yet they want to destroy a roost in their own parish.”

East Devon District Council will make the final decision on the application at a later date.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-budleigh-housing-development-1-5786516

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/

Neighbouhood plans, conservation areas – who cares? Not EDDC

A correspondent writes:

Many of us in East Devon have spent, or are spending many volunteer hours in setting up a Neighbourhood Plan for our area.

Is it worth the effort?

Perhaps those in East Budleigh would say no. An application -18/0954-to build 2 bunkers in the conservation area, in the setting of many thatched, cob, listed buildings and within a stone’s throw of the Grade 1 listed church has been approved by planning officers. The application totally contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan and objected to by the Parish Council. Not a whisper from the Budleigh Boys, hence the application was not debated by the Development Management Committee.

The subjective decision by the officers can be summed up as “The benefits outweigh the harm” (see below). The residents may struggle to see the public benefits of 2 more potential second homes to add to those already in the historic centre of one of Devon’s historic villages. The private benefit is all too clear.

They may also struggle with the weight put on the Neighbourhood Plan Policy D2 to contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses and the absence of any weight put on Policy B3 which supports development only on previously developed land and dwellings that reflect the character of the surrounding area.

Here is the planning officers reasoning:

“CONCLUSION

The location of the site within the built-up area and the characteristics of its past use suggest that appropriate forms of development would be acceptable in principle. The submitted scheme does have some shortcomings, particularly in terms of layout and changes to ground levels. These would result in some loss of significance to the conservation area because the historic layout and levels would be permanently lost. The only evidence that would remain would be documentary evidence in the form of maps and photographs. These impacts, however, would occur at a site level and would not affect the significance of the wider conservation area. For this reason the harm is regarded as less than substantial.

According to the NPPF, where a development proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use.

In this case the proposal would contribute to the supply of housing in a sustainable location, bring additional people into the village to support local services and contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses identified in the NP (Policy D2).

While it would not support the provision of a community orchard as desired in the NP, the land was not allocated for such purposes and there is no evidence that it could be delivered. The benefits identified would be in the wider public interest whereas the harm would have limited public impact and would not harm the more public parts of the conservation which make the most contribution to its significance.

With regard to securing the optimum viable use of all land in the conservation area, it is considered that the site is effectively redundant for garden use and does not have any value as a public open space (it being in private ownership). Its development can therefore help to secure a viable use for the land while conserving the areas of main significance elsewhere in the conservation area.

Having regard to all other matter raised, it is considered that the public benefits outweigh the limited harm in this case and therefore the proposal is recommended for approval.”