Habitat, biodiversity and dark skies

Large scale development of sites could cause irrevocable damage to our landscape and biodiversity, either directly or by close proximity, and potentially in ways which we cannot model, observe or anticipate.

Congestion, in particular when a road becomes temporarily blocked by backed-up traffic or an accident, causes traffic to divert along the small village roads and the lanes in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), increasing the risk of injury or mortality to wildlife.

Habitats will be disrupted, firstly by disturbing habitats during the major upheaval of construction and thereafter in perpetuity by proximity to humans and their pets. Stealing shamelessly from the formula on WILD's website, this could mean 52 cats and 68 dogs at Foxhole Farm. Cats in particular are not constrained by garden fences and will hunt in adjacent woodland, also crossing roads without regard to traffic.

Greenfield site development in particular can ruin natural drainage systems and fragile ecosystems, the total opposite of sustainability.

There are bat roosts on Foxhole Farm (see Aspect Ecology survey) and other potential species for protection :

"Numerous areas of woodland are present within the nearby surrounds of the site, connecting to the woodland and hedgerow network within and adjacent to the site. These features form good quality foraging and commuting habitat for bats. Accordingly, further survey work is underway to determine the extent of use of the site by foraging and commuting bats to inform a planning application....and inform requirements for mitigation and sensitive lighting"

The National Trust describes wildlife corridors 'as a link from one environment to another allowing wildlife to move freely and safely between them, without threat from predators or traffic'. Wildlife corridors will be disrupted or removed entirely by large scale development, preventing established movement of wildlife, turning it back and potentially condensing it into less suitable habitat where it cannot thrive. Hedges form important wildlife corridors, particularly a mosaic of different hedge types, trees, ivy, brambles and even ditches and should not be disturbed. Road verges are another important but oft overlooked habitat. These habitats provide nesting, breeding, shelter, migration and feeding places for a variety of fauna.

Street lighting and even individual outside lights installed by house occupants will compromise our dark skies, disrupting hunting raptors, nocturnal mammals, reptiles, roosting/nesting birds and resting/breeding wildlife.

There may be several iterations of ground plans for any development. Members of the public need to be vigilant during planning applications and changes in the portal: public vigilance helped ensure that the Churchfield View development on London Road respected dark skies by identifying inconsistencies in the street lamp plans, fortunately before they were executed, which would have impacted our dark skies even further.

Biodiversity dictionary definition: the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable. The Aspect ecology survey for Foxhole Farm (see link above) addresses Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) which is brand new, coming into force on 12 Feb 2024. The study predicts that, subject to a full BND assessment at planning stage, there could be a very high 30% BNG (10% being the minimum requirement). There are government metrics (standard calculations) which are used to determine BNG. However, as explained on Countryfile on 11th Feb 2024, there are uncertainties around monitoring and enforcement over the statutory 30 year period.

Definition of Biota, should you come across it: the animals and plants living in a particular place, time, or habitat