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

EDDC, Tiggers, EDA and global heating crisis – names to be named

East Devon aims to be carbon neutral by 2040 following motion from 20-year-old (Lib Dem) councillor:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-aims-carbon-neutral-3138282?

Straightforward? Er, no – several councillors (Tory and Independent Group) refused to back this because they said it was too ambitious.

Councillors voted by 30 votes to 23 to agree to adopt a 2040 target for the council to be carbon neutral by.

East Devon Alliance were councillors happy to back the young Lib Dem who brought the motion to council. So who didn’t?

As explained by EDA Councillor Paul Arnott in his unique style:

Anyone hearing Devon flannel merchant and Tory grotesque Geoffrey Cox talking through his fundament on Any Questions with unreassuring ease about climate change may see why I had to back this. Superb speeches from 3 20 year old East Devonians at our full council last week and a motion from Luke, the splendid 19 year old Liberal, said it all.

Needless to say, all Tories, and Cabinet loyalists voted against. I called for a recorded vote. When the names of those who voted for are published with the minutes, that, in my opinion, is the group likely to deliver real change as demanded by the electorate in May.”

Some councillors showing a lot more independence and a lot less Group …

Budleigh and Raleigh – 2 Tory 1 Independent

Budleigh and Raleigh (three seats)
Alan Dent (Conservative) – 1,112 ELECTED
Pete Duke (Green Party) – 971
Brigitte Graham (UKIP) – 518
Patsy Hayman (Conservative) – 982
Paul Jarvis (Independent) – 1,187 ELECTED
Penny Lewis (Liberal Democrats) – 907
Thomas Wright (Conservative) – 999 ELECTED

East Devon resident calls out Tory government on environment and bats

 

“Thérèse Coffey

[Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]

Cc Michael Gove

Hello Thérèse

I recently attended the red squirrel conference in Exeter and was impressed by your passionate video introduction. I believe that you and Michael Gove are sincere in your intentions but I am afraid you are being undermined by your own Party and would be more effective working for an organisation with real environmental integrity such as The Wildlife Trust. You and Michael may be the most progressive and forward thinking Conservative Environment ministers that we have had in decades. I was very impressed when Michael stated “Outside the EU we are going to make sure that our environment is enhanced and protected. We believe in a greener Britain.”

Unfortunately I am afraid that I, like many others have given up on all Council and Government wildlife initiatives. Whilst paying lip service to wildlife groups and claiming to be green the reality is that they actually have a total disregard for environmental issues.  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 content has been carefully thought out. It covers a huge range of subjects that I feel very strongly about: sustainable land use, enhancing the beauty and environmental worth of landscapes, and protection of wildlife.

The issue is the document is a vision and not legislation. It a collection of really good ideas but it is not law. When there is a conflict between potential industrial development, the provision of housing, and the environment, the ideals will get thrown into the river like toxic waste. If there is a chance for profit to be made councils will always find ways to get around even the most stringent protections. Sadly the “Green Future” is not seen as a moral compass for development it is just viewed as a bit of a nuisance.  The proposed development on the pound in East Budleigh is a classic example. It clearly goes against the ideals expressed in the 25 year plan and the protection afforded to endangered species by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as Amended)

The proposed development ( 18/1464/FUL. )  involves demolition of a barn (dating back to the 17th century) containing 11 species of bats (Including Grey Long eared bats, and Greater Horseshoe bats), Dormouse habitat destruction, and a Badger set relocation. It has caused a local outcry, the involvement of Sir David Attenborough, Devon Wildlife Trust, features on Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight.

When the development was put to the EDDC Development Management Committee the council chamber was packed with objectors. The plans were still passed paving the way for the a  new entrance to be put through a well loved and iconic local amenity space and the destruction of habitat for several endangered species. Councillors were not only out of step with the electorate but also showed a total disregard for Michael Gove’s twenty five year Environmental Plan and environmental protection legislation. The whole community as well a host of endangered species in East Budleigh will lose out just so that one house can be developed. Yet another totally unbalanced decision that will only benefit a local wealthy landowner by the Conservative lead East Devon District Council.

If you would like to see the site in order to draw your own conclusions I would love to be your host. If you need more background information do not hesitate to contact me.

Clinton Devon Estates, East Budleigh: bats not welcome here?

A correspondent informs Owl:

“I have been interested to see your website and in particular reference to the barn in East Budleigh where bats are present.

I drove past the barn recently and found that the barn door, which was previously ill fitting, which would have allowed easy entry and exit for the bats from the barn, has now been sealed with large sheets of plywood. [picture above]

This may have been to replace an unsafe door….but my fear is that it may have been done to prevent the flight of bats from and to their roost.

If the obstruction of the flight of bats is successful the bats will die and there will be no bats to protect.. Thereby allowing CDE to demolish the barn….

This is similar to the practice of netting trees and hedges, to prevent birds nesting, which then allows developers to cut down trees and hedges they would otherwise be unable to do if nests were present.”

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