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Any advice / experience of fighting local plans (farmland development) (1 Viewer)

Richard D

what was that...
Supporter
United Kingdom
The Local Plan is up for consultation and comes with a proposed categorisation of farmland being suitable for development. The farmland in question adjoins a RAMSAR site that is already threatened by leisure disturbance and acts as a corridor to reedbeds and former gravel pits. The farmland has a large breedin population of Skylarks and Yellow Wagaial, as well as being a winter roosting site for Lapwings etc.

No current planning application but it really shouldn't be in the local plan as suitable for development...
 

greer3

Active member
United Kingdom
Best of luck stopping that. If they're anything like our council, it will end up as a holiday lodge site with residents trampling all over the RAMSAR site. The same council is always banging on about net zero and how much they care for the environment.
 

01101001

Well-known member
Opus Editor
Poland
Perhaps you could drum up some interest around a petition by listing all the benefits of that site remaining a farmland including--but not limited to--all breeding, wintering and resident birds with their conservation status meticulously listed, photos and all (as in: 'x endangered species breed/winter/live in...'; the more, the better--apart from your own experience and knowledge you may use information from online birding platforms if there are any checklists limited to the site in question). You could also mention all the leisure and other activities taking place in that area as an argument for the status quo (simply be creative and make it look convincing--you know best). Then, perhaps print a few copies to put at a local library, community centre, school, the like. Also--obviously--don't forget to check if you have some natural allies in the neighbourhood already--a local (chapter of a) wildlife conservation charity, birdwatching club (well) or residents association--who could help you further your cause. No experience on my side, but that's what I would do (and I did give it some thought some time ago when I wanted to make sure I would be able to anticipate a similar development close to where I live just in case it ever occured--it never did, so just a dry run, after all). Ah, and all the best!
 

Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
Have ALL the records for the species that are there and likely to be affected, along with whether or not they are Red-listed etc. May well be worth recording the birds, plants, insects, animals etc in that area on a regular basis (weekly?) prior to any planning application being submitted. Chances are, if any surveying is carried out by prospective developers it will be scheduled for a time likely to show that there isn't anything there - remember one up here that was carried out on one afternoon in March over a two hour window. Hardly surprising they didn't find much. However, we'd been carefully keeping track of what the site did hold and were able to counter their result.

Also, how about letters to the local papers etc, highlighting the wildlife, making people aware of what the area stands to lose if development takes place.
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
Chances are, if any surveying is carried out by prospective developers it will be scheduled for a time likely to show that there isn't anything there - remember one up here that was carried out on one afternoon in March over a two hour window. Hardly surprising they didn't find much.

Lots of good stuff being said here, but this bit simply isn't true. Most surveys come with pretty strict timing requirements, and planning for survey schedules will have been run past advisors (in this case SNH, or Nature Scot, or whatever they were called at the time). Sometimes surveys are carried out at suboptimal times due to weather, availability of surveyors, breakdowns en route, whatever it might be - but it's not deliberate.

There is a lot of distance between the developers (who may well like the idea of a survey returning very few birds) and the surveyors (who may be opposed to the development, generally are keen to conserve, do a good job, and frankly, see some birds). It would be very unusual for the surveyor on the ground to have had any contact with the developers, for most (larger) projects at least.
 

Welsh Peregrine

Well-known member
Also, be accurate. There was a local site here where one of the headline claims was Agile Frog, apparently based on an identification of a photograph. Needless to say, in this case the mistake led to many questions about all other species reported. (Happy ending, the development did not take place; but what should have been good information of a wide range of species and habitats was badly compromised).
 

Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
Lots of good stuff being said here, but this bit simply isn't true. Most surveys come with pretty strict timing requirements, and planning for survey schedules will have been run past advisors (in this case SNH, or Nature Scot, or whatever they were called at the time). Sometimes surveys are carried out at suboptimal times due to weather, availability of surveyors, breakdowns en route, whatever it might be - but it's not deliberate.

There is a lot of distance between the developers (who may well like the idea of a survey returning very few birds) and the surveyors (who may be opposed to the development, generally are keen to conserve, do a good job, and frankly, see some birds). It would be very unusual for the surveyor on the ground to have had any contact with the developers, for most (larger) projects at least.
The council was the developer in the instance I referred to, so I would have thought they'd have arranged the timing etc of the survey themselves. That may not be the usual scenario, but the results did back up the guy championing the project who said he'd visited with his family and saw nothing.
 
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greer3

Active member
United Kingdom
Perhaps you could drum up some interest around a petition by listing all the benefits of that site remaining a farmland including--but not limited to--all breeding, wintering and resident birds with their conservation status meticulously listed, photos and all (as in: 'x endangered species breed/winter/live in...'; the more, the better--apart from your own experience and knowledge you may use information from online birding platforms if there are any checklists limited to the site in question). You could also mention all the leisure and other activities taking place in that area as an argument for the status quo (simply be creative and make it look convincing--you know best). Then, perhaps print a few copies to put at a local library, community centre, school, the like. Also--obviously--don't forget to check if you have some natural allies in the neighbourhood already--a local (chapter of a) wildlife conservation charity, birdwatching club (well) or residents association--who could help you further your cause. No experience on my side, but that's what I would do (and I did give it some thought some time ago when I wanted to make sure I would be able to anticipate a similar development close to where I live just in case it ever occured--it never did, so just a dry run, after all). Ah, and all the best!
'-a local (chapter of a) wildlife conservation charity, birdwatching club'
Excellent idea. It would help if as many birdwatchers and other nature lovers as possible also support these organisations by joining them and paying their subs. For some people finances might be stretched at the moment, but if not, why not join at least one of them, if not more? Some folk think of any excuse not to, such as not agreeing with some of their policies ( like spending money on diversity and inclusion or the latest social justice campaign) but no charity or voluntary body is perfect, and if their main aim is to protect and promote nature then just turn a blind eye to their subsidiary, irritating foibles. I must confess, I once cancelled my subs when one charity became overly involved with decolonization, diversity, equality and inclusion, in a spate of virtue signalling and self-flagellation, but I joined another nature charity to compensate. They too aren't perfect , but it was the lesser of of two evils.
I had one minor success a few years ago. A local model aeroplane society put in an application for establishing a site in what was then a very sensitive area for breeding Lapwings, Yellow Wagtail, other bird species and Brown Hare, as well as an important location for migrating birds and winter residents. My view was that model aircraft flying around would cause a disturbance. I wrote to the council and when the club read the objection they withdrew the plan. I later met the club chairman and mentioned the episode and he confessed he hadn't been aware their activities might have caused problems and had withdrawn the plan after seeing my objection.
Every little bit helps!
 
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A successful campaign was run close to my old home in North London. A piece of land called Pinkham way was chosen for an incinerator. The surveyors failed to find bats on a summers evening which I found bizarre, a 20 minute attempt easily showed up 3 species on the detector only 10 minutes walk from there.
Anyway, I’m sure the leaders of the campaign would be happy to share tactics. There’s a Facebook page for the Pinkham way alliance which still shows activity several years after the main objections.
 

01101001

Well-known member
Opus Editor
Poland
Warsaw keeps a semi-formal (no actual status/protection) map of green areas within the city, and a year or so ago I thought about nominating a local spot (it's reportedly possible) to help prevent excessive development taking place in the future. This area isn't protected--but still contains a valuable mix of habitats--so I think I can afford to regard as allies such diverse groups as motocrossers (on a designated track), model aircraft fliers (there is a specific site for that as well), walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, joggers, ski runners, sledgers, beekeepers, local residents, weekend visitors, nightly skulkers (forget about owling, eek!) and birdwatchers, of course. All of this activity I managed to observe/hear of within 2 square km, some of which is occupied by housing (which goes on to show just how much happens in a rather small place). And, yes, there are bats out there, but I don't have a detector (I've heard of small plugin microphones, and I think there's a even a subforum here--two of them actually: Bird Sounds Recording and Bats--dedicated to such equipment that I have yet to study more closely).
 
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greer3

Active member
United Kingdom
A report from the Westmorland Gazette after a plan to site holiday lodges on farmland was withdrawn: ' AN application to build a holiday resort in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been withdrawn after receiving dozens of objections from locals.'
This is unusual because that particular national park authority have been inundated with similar applications, and within the planning laws there's little they can do to reject them. There was a similar good outcome with the Lake District national park authority. A plan for a holiday complex in a very sensitive area was turned down after many complaints including one from the Friends of the Lake District.
 

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