Hydro have engaged a new ecological consultancy, EDP, to undertake this seasons ecological surveys at the Filter Beds. Natural England have advised that 'the consultants should demonstrate how bats are using the basins as a foraging area at optimal conditions'. The council have engaged their own expert from Baker, Shepherd and Gillespie to advise on the process.
This means that the Filter Beds should be full of natural water and the early surveys should achieve adequate spring temperatures and not these inclement <10 degrees we are currently experiencing. It is up to us to monitor the level of water in the basins, by maintaining an accurate record of photographic evidence. The previous consultants produced misleading reports showing summer bat surveys with basins full of water, yet there were no leaves on the trees in the photographs.
It is likely that the new surveys and tweaking of the design (emphasis on a dark corridor for bat foraging) will be presented in August, 2012. This is very early. In order to fulfil Bat Conservation Trust Guidelines (see previous post) August or juvenile flying surveys should be included in the survey data.
There has been no discussion of our Core Strategy, which flies this month. The Core strategy states that this site is unsuitable for residential development. At the hearings (see earlier posts) the inspector asked for the document to be changed for the sake of clarity. This included the removal from page Page 48 of the draft strategy which stated 'development opportunities exist on the FB site'
There has been little discussion of the additional wildlife species (including other bat species and roosts) or the national priority habitats found at the site. Will the new consultants take on board the new Kingston Best Practice Guide for Developers, which mentions priority habitats and species. Will they address the holes in the previous surveys; e.g. why were invertebrate surveys carried out in all habitats bar water, when in the suite of surveys carried out by Thames Water, the aquatic invertebrates that were found to be the rarest.
If this in an unfair assessment of the meeting between the developers and the council please comment below.