Sanctuary

There has been a great upwelling of concern and anger over the proposal to destroy the Sanctuary LNR in Derby (see Guest Blog and this blog).

Objections out number comments received in favour of the proposal (309 to 300 when last I looked, so it is close).

You have until the end of tomorrow (16th) to object (or comment in favour) – the whole process can be quite quick – just click here.

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust issued this press release on Tuesday this week:

A planning application in Derby will set a dangerous national precedent as the local authority aims to build a cycle race track on land it previously designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Local Wildlife Site.

 

Derby City Council could become the first local authority to choose to build on a significant part of its own LNR without any mitigation, against its own policies and national planning policy guidance.  Local Nature Reserves are designated sites which are important for wildlife – and make a valuable contribution to England’s natural heritage – and public enjoyment.

 

The Sanctuary, Derby’s only bird reserve, is located next to Derby County’s football stadium at Pride Park (recently renamed the iPro Stadium) and adjacent to a new multi-million pound indoor velodrome.  Plans include a pay-to-race track and mountain bike skills area. 

 

 

The 12 hectare site is the only LNR in Derby designated for its birds and key for people’s access to wildlife in Derby.  One third comprises a grassed-over toxic waste mound, whose construction in 2003 destroyed two thirds of a special grassland habitat which The Sanctuary was subsequently created to protect.   

 

 

The Sanctuary’s open mosaic of grassland habitat is used by ground-nesting and migrant birds.  Species such as skylark, meadow pipit, wheatear, snipe, stonechat, ring ouzel and lapwing have either nested or rested on migration here.  The rare Dartford warbler has also been recorded on the site.

 

 

Last year The Wildlife Trusts responded to 6,600 planning applications with 3,000 being improved for wildlife as a result of our input.  Stephen Trotter, The Wildlife Trusts’ Director for England, said: 

 

 

“This will be a nationally significant case.  It highlights the extreme pressure being put on our remaining habitats everywhere.  The Wildlife Trusts are trying to save fantastic wild places across the UK such as Aylestone Meadows* (see notes to editors) in Leicester. Last year’s national report on the State of Nature in the UK highlighted the 60% declines in our wildlife and local authorities have responsibilities to conserve and enhance nature.  Loss of nature reserves like The Sanctuary – death by a thousand cuts, if you like, has to stop if we are to have any chance of halting, and reversing, the decline in our nation’s wildlife.

 

 

A coalition of 15 Derbyshire wildlife groups is urging people to oppose the planning application which offers no suitable mitigation for the damage caused to the LNR.  The coalition includes Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Ornithological Society, the local RSPB group and Derby Natural History Society.

 

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Tim Birch, Conservation Manager at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said:  “Derby City Council risks national disrepute if it goes ahead with its plans.  This would be the first case in the country where a Local Authority, having given one of its own wildlife sites Local Nature Reserve status, then goes on to destroy a significant part of it without mitigation.  We fear LNRs in other regions could then also be seen as fair game for all sorts of inappropriate development.”

 

 

An independent ecological assessment carried out for Derby City Council in 2013 concluded that The Sanctuary LNR is of county-level importance and that the proposed development will have an adverse ecological impact on the LNR at ‘County’ Level.’

 

The Council maintains its plans will only destroy 18% of the Local Nature Reserve.  The coalition argues that 40-50% of the site’s key bird habitats will be lost or irrevocably disturbed by the high level of proposed use both by day and also after dark using floodlighting.

 

 

Derbyshire Ornithological Society chairman, Bryan Barnacle, said:  “We believe that councillors, the media and indeed cyclists have been misled by the council into thinking that the part of The Sanctuary allocated for the racing circuit is just a bit of unimportant waste ground.  In fact it’s an integral and key element of this 12 hectare reserve, important for many breeding and migrating bird species.  Suggesting they only need avoid the most sensitive part of the key reserve where legally protected little ringed plovers breed is to completely miss the point.  This is a precious jewel among the brick, concrete and tarmac of Pride Park; losing any of it will be a significant loss for the city’s biodiversity.”

 

 

The coalition is urging all those who care about the conservation of wildlife and the protection of Local Nature Reserves to contact Derby City Council’s planning department by 16 January to lodge an objection.   Tim Birch added: “We regret finding ourselves in conflict with the ambitions of cycle groups, but are confident that the majority will start to understand the implications for wildlife and Derby residents’ access to nature, should this go ahead.” 

 

 

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10 Replies to “Sanctuary”

  1. Just to add that although ONLINE objections close tomorrow (16th) it will be acceptable to email them or send them by letter after that date and up to a week before the planning committee meets to discuss this matter....that could be Feb 6th or more likely March 13th.
    The email address is developmentcontrol@derby.gov.uk and the address is:
    Director of Planning & facilities Management, the Council House, Corporation St., Derby DE1 2FS.
    Please see Richard Winspear's guest blog for 7th January by scrolling down to details of how to object online and the reasons why etc.
    Thanks,
    Nick

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  2. The latest score (just updated) is not so good - 449 objections but 527 supports - so we are lagging behind again and really do need a final push in the 24 hours left!
    Nick

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  3. Thanks to everyone who has supported our objection to this proposal. As a cyclist, I find it odd to be objecting to a cycle track but think Derby City Council have pitched conservationists against cyclists unnecessarily. One of our objectors notified the Council about risks to the LNR when plans were first mentioned, and the Council replied to say that no land within the LNR would be needed. Since then, they apparently bult the velodrome outside of the LNR but used the land that was originally planned to site the cycle track for car parking, thus making the encroachment into the LNR inevitable. Planning is dangerous when led by folk who cannot plan!

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  4. Indeed John!
    The cyclists have got Sir Chris Hoy on board now (hence he rapid rise in 'supports') whereas we have so far failed to interest the likes of Chris Packham, David Lindo etc to support us...though they may yet surface (David has visited the reserve).
    If anyone has links with journalists working for the nationals (or other 'celebs') please do point them at Mark's blog, for a start! Not many planning applications get over 450 objectors in the space of a week.....
    Nick

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  5. Ref. my previous remark: to his great credit, Chris Packham has just given us a very good and feisty quote - and very promptly too (thanks Chris if you reads Mark's blog!). It will be used in a press release shortly.
    So now we have one Chris for the track (Hoy) and one against (Packham).
    I also hear that at a graduation ceremony at Derby University today, a rep. from British Cycling praised the city for its new velodrome and cycle track!
    Nick

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  6. Update on the scoreboard: by last night the 'score was 605 'supports' to 575 'objects'. So, only a gap of 30 and an even more remarkable number of objections (thanks Kate and anyone else who has objected). The online system should have closed last night but remained active today and more objections were filed. We should reach 600!
    What happens next is anyone's guess. Will this remarkable level of objection require the application to be withdrawn or to be considered by a 'higher' authority than the planning committee? A senior member of council staff suggested today to someone that it would go to the next committee meeting (on 6th Feb) but how can the 100s of pages of comments that objectors sent in be properly analysed and summarised for the committee in such a short space of time? Or maybe they won't bother and will simply circulate a brief summary on a side of A4? Perhaps someone reading this will know more about planning procedure than I do!
    Meanwhile we have asked the council's Planning Scrutiny Board to put this matter on the agenda for their forthcoming meeting (on 28th) and we will be issuing a press release next week about the unprecedented level of objections and using Chris Packham's quote.
    Nick

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