Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Natural England responds on Straitgate

Natural England's response with respect to the Straitgate application can be found here; the Blackhill response should follow later this week. 

To highlight just a few paragraphs from the response - on soils:
Although we are generally satisfied that the best and most versatile (BMV) land should be capable of being reclaimed without loss of quality, the submitted soil handling, restoration and aftercare proposals do not meet the requirements for sustainable minerals development, set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and current Minerals Planning Practice Guidance. Please refer to our detailed comments in Annex 1 of this letter.
Additionally to note, as the site is BMV, the same area of BMV land should be restored. If there is no topsoil in an area it cannot be returned to grade 3a. Rather, the restoration should aim to return all areas to 3a and if an area of reduced fertility is desired then this should be achieved by reducing nutrient levels over time, if analysis of the soil shows that this is possible.
and on protected species:
We have not assessed this application and associated documents in detail for impacts on protected species, however, we would wish to bring to your attention that the Great Crested Newt survey (ES Chapter 8 – ecology) has not been completed for all the identified ponds and further information will be required in line with our standing advice (see link below).
We are also aware that tree and hedgerow planting proposed as mitigation for both landscape purposes and replacement habitat for the dormouse population may not yet be in place in the quantity identified throughout the documentation supporting this application, including in ES Chapter 13 – Summary of effects and mitigation. Your Authority will need to be satisfied that the mitigation plan proposed by the Applicant is deliverable in the quantity and to the quality required and within the appropriate timescales to provide the necessary replacement habitat.
Natural England has published Standing Advice on protected species. You should apply our Standing Advice to this application as it is a material consideration in the determination of applications in the same way as any individual response received from Natural England following consultation.