Friday, 2 December 2016

European Protected Species - Don't believe everything you read

For anyone minded to wade through Aggregate Industries' forthcoming planning application, it will be all about separating fact from fiction. For example, remember all that hoo-ha about AI not being able to process Straitgate material at Rockbeare?
It has been demonstrated that processing at Rockbeare is not physically possible due to a lack of silt space and clean water storage, insufficient stocking and processing area and the presence of great crested newts in existing ponds. 8.37
Most of those arguments didn’t stand up to scrutiny, but what about the newts?

AI’s ecologist had said:
It is the opinion of JG Ecological Surveys Ltd that alternative opportunities to achieve the operational objectives for the company while avoiding disturbance to the local populations of GCN at Rockbeare Quarry should be sought.
We wrote a bit about the subject in You couldn’t make this up! Likewise, Natural England also saw through AI’s ruse:
The presence of Great Crested Newts at Rockbeare Quarry is cited as a constraint to the consideration of using Rockbeare Quarry as an alternative location for the processing of quarry materials from Straitgate Farm. Natural England advises that the potential exists for this to be addressed through European Protected Species licencing and that this avenue could be explored through consultation with our licensing team.
But if "processing at Rockbeare is not physically possible due to… the presence of great crested newts", why was Midland Quarry Products granted a licence to relocate great crested newts to allow quarry expansion? Or does AI only care about wildlife when its suits them?

Dormice are also a European Protected Species, but of course AI doesn't say quarrying at Straitgate is not physically possible due to... the presence of dormice.

So it will be interesting to learn in AI's new application how dormice in Straitgate's ancient hedgerows would be protected; interesting to learn how many kilometres of hedgerow would be destroyed; interesting to learn how much mitigation planting would still need to be done; interesting to learn how much habitat connectivity would be lost.