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SEATON: Concern for bat welfare as sheds are demolished

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A complaint has been made to the police over the demolition of the old garages and sheds on land to be used for the new community housing scheme by Beer Community Land Trust (CLT).
The buildings were cleared on Tuesday as the next stage in the plan to build seven homes on the site, five of which will be reserved for local people.
Project leader Geoff Pook, who is a councillor on East Devon District Council and Beer Parish Council and lives in the village, said all the necessary documentation had been completed to prepare the way for demolition but that has been challenged by local resident Norman Brown.
Mr Brown said that provision had not been made for the welfare and safety of the bats who, he claims, used the buildings and that the necessary mitigation licence had not been attained from either Natural England or East Devon District Council.
“The developer called on me and other residents in January to say about the demolition and the question I raised is whether they had a mitigation licence but I was told they did not need one,” said Mr Brown.
“I know they have built a bat house but that is not enough. According to Natural England the site must be without bats for three to five years otherwise to demolish it would be a crime.
“This is not about us and them or Nimbyism (not in my back yard) because the residents here are happy to see lawful development; this is about planning documentation.
“We feel planning is being rail-roaded through and all we want to see is the law being followed.”
Mr Pook said the CLT had employed an ecological consultant, David F Wills of Newton Abbot, who had conducted extensive surveys from February 2012 of the site and the three corrugated iron sheds.
“As the buildings were no longer used by bats and had not been used for a significant time period, it was considered unnecessary to apply for a licence from Natural England,” said Mr Wills in his report.
“Beer CLT were advised accordingly that no licence was required prior to demolition.
“These conclusions were shared with Natural England prior to commencement of the demolition.”
Mr Brown said he was making a statement to the police on Thursday.
Asked to comment, a police spokesman said: “Devon and Cornwall Police are aware of the incident, but there is no police action at this time.”
Mr Pook regretted the delay which has cost the project time and money but stressed that the CLT had fulfilled all the requirements of them before clearing the site.
“It has been an annoying interlude but it is now full steam ahead,” said Mr Pook.

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