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.”