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Can newts save greenfield site earmarked:

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GemmaJF
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Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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Posted: 20 Oct 2003
Can newts save greenfield site earmarked for 500 homes?

TEST Valley Tories are furious after Lib Dem councillors backed the authority's planners' decision to allocate a site at Abbotswood for 500 new homes.

And Romsey's prospective Tory parliamentary candidate Caroline Nokes claimed the decision to build in an area known to support a large colony of rare great crested newts at Chivers Field was "stacking up future trouble" for the borough council.

"We know the site is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of great crested newts in the county. We know English Nature is considering it for SSSI status and we know the importance of the species makes the site eligible. English Nature requires additional information and should the evidence support SSSI status it would be all but impossible for this site to be used for housing," said the angry Tory member for Romsey Extra ward.

Mrs Nokes warned: "By allocating this site Test Valley could be stacking up future trouble for itself. If the site is allocated as an SSSI it could fall out of the Borough Local Plan and we could find every other site in southern Test Valley becomes vulnerable to speculative applications and inspectors making decisions. The spectre of John Prescott making decisions without any reference to local people in not an appetising one."

The clash between the two political parties came during Tuesday's borough cabinet meeting when members were debating whether Chivers Field and Redbridge Lane at Nursling should be set aside for Test Valley's housing needs up to 2011

Lib Dem members unanimously voted in favour of building the 500 homes on the old Chivers gravel pit site - now pastureland and used by many people as an unofficial open-space.

An enraged Mrs Nokes, who backed campaigners fighting for the site to be given town or village green status, concluded: "The proposal for Abbotswood has too many question marks hanging over it. A gamble that the environmental issues will be dismissed is actually taking a gamble with every other site in the southern parishes."

Chivers Field campaign leader Clea Atkinson said: "I have no political persuasion but I am disappointed at the lack of support given by the council's Lib Dems. Liz Barron and Sandra Gidley have been marvellous and helped me a great deal.

"I support Caroline entirely on what she said at the meeting. Caroline put the case for the newts very well. I hope Chivers Field will remain an open space where the public can relax and escape from the stresses of the 21st century. I will continue my campaign for town or village green status for Chivers Field."

Nursling and Rownhams ward borough councillor Nigel Anderdon also attacked the Lib Dems for supporting plans to retain land at Nursling's Redbridge Lane for 300 new homes.

He said: "Lib Dems, Councillors, Cooper, Leach and Bailey voted en masse for a reduction in the gap (greenbelt) between Nursling and Southampton and for it to be allocated a reserve site for 300 homes in the Borough Local Plan Review. I and the other Nursling ward members are disgusted with the result. Any encroachment on the gap between Nursling and Southampton would be a risk to other local gaps in the Test Valley." He warned that he and his ward colleagues would fight to overturn the cabinet's decision at the earliest opportunity

http://www.thisishampshire.net/hampshire/romsey/news/ROMSEY_NEWS_NEWS0.html


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Martin
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Joined: 23 Feb 2003
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Posted: 21 Oct 2003
Interesting one this. The official survey results carried out in late spring 2001 show a lot of newts there. One evening the GCN count was 207, it then fell on later nights to around 125. IÆm sure that the surface has barely been scratched here yet. (The report admits that the survey was carried out at the backend of their season.) The site is proposed for reserve housing but being pushed hard for 2010 onwards inclusion. (Up to around 1300 houses)
A couple of quick questions, isnÆt over 100 a night SSSI level?
Who and how do you start that process off?
Regards, Martin.

GemmaJF
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Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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Posted: 21 Oct 2003

SSSI criteria for GCN in isolation, all exceptional sites, based on More than 100 adults seen in each of 3 years.

I know a number of reptile sites that would/should qualify for SSSI status based on the criteria I have found in the literature. I would like to know why more of these sites are not protected as they should be when they are flagged up. I admit to being naive to the processes involved and the reasons why reptile and amphibian populations are rarely enough to give sites SSSI status despite reaching the required criteria.


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Martin
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Joined: 23 Feb 2003
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Posted: 21 Oct 2003
Hi Gemma, know what you mean about being naive to the processes involved. I was horrified to discover that out of 50+ Hampshire GCN recorded colonies only 3, I believe, even have SINC status.
It's a hope of mine, and others, to get this Romsey site listed as a SSSI. I first visited this one in the face of development proposals in 1999. I was impressed by the numbers of newts and also the ages of some we caught, a few old boys live there!
I'm currently responding to the Council proposals yet again, I'll post it up here when I'm done.

Martin.

(I hate development plans and politics......)
calumma
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Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 22 Oct 2003
Remember that one of the main reasons why sites do not receive the protection they deserve is (politics aside) poor communication between conservation organisations.

it can be a difficult struggle to push herp conservation up the local agenda and ensure that they are properly considered. For example, in Kent all county wildlife sites have been designated based on their botanical interest alone. Could this also be the case in Hampshire? KRAG are working with the Kent Wildlife Trust and local recording centre to re-evaluate local wildlife sites but we need good solid data that is open to external scrutiny.

Too often, detailed survey assessments are only undertaken in advance of development by consultants. The results of such surveys are rarely passed on to outside bodies.

Lee
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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Matt Harris
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Joined: 03 Jun 2003
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Posted: 22 Oct 2003
I would like to know why more of these sites are not protected as they should be when they are flagged up.

In theory, a GCN site doesn't even have to be exceptional - it can also qualify if its just the best site in an Area of Search (based on watsonian vice counties) after a thorough survey has been undertaken.

Sites with assemblages of amphibians, wherein no one species necessarily has an exceptional population, can also qualify.

Firstly, the local EN/CCW/SNH team may not know of the site, and often rely upon people like yourselves to flag these things up.

Secondly, and the most likely reason why there are not more herp SSSI's is that, with limited resources, potential SSSIs have to be prioritised against each other and against other work that the team has on. It's not that there's a bias against herp sites, it's just that there are more urgent priorities.
Gwent Amphibian and Reptile Group (GARG)
Mervyn
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Joined: 14 Feb 2003
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Posted: 22 Oct 2003

There is a brown field site in Kent, it's interesting in that it has naturally regenerated over the last 30 years.

Known to Gemma and KRAG, which may be built upon, (currently at Planning Appeal) and adjacent to a SSSI site.

It has exceptional reptile populations of 3 common species, which meets the criteria given. Badgers, rare plants etc are also recorded at the site.

Could anyone advise me of the implications (good and bad) of applying for SSSI status for this site?

What do I have to do?



Mervyn J. COTTENDEN, CPA
Matt Harris
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Joined: 03 Jun 2003
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Posted: 22 Oct 2003
"Exceptional populations" dont count towards a points-scoring system for reptile assemblages as they do for amphibians. To qualify, the site has to be the BEST containing at least three of the "common" species in the area of search.

For your site to be eligible to qualify you would have to demonstrate that it is the best and that there is sufficient survey data to prove this.

If it is adjacent to a current SSSI, that SSSI could be extended to include the new features, or enlarged to extend the area of pre-existing features.

In any case, EN have to do the notification - you can only supply the data. You would need to contact their local office in your area.
Gwent Amphibian and Reptile Group (GARG)
Mervyn
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Posted: 25 Oct 2003

Matt

 

Many thanks

 

Mervyn


Mervyn J. COTTENDEN, CPA
coco_chris
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Joined: 02 Oct 2004
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Posted: 03 Oct 2004
i recon so 2

- Can newts save greenfield site earmarked

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