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Showing posts from August, 2021

The conservation evidence gap in ecological mitigation

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  What is ecological mitigation? In the UK, the legal protection of species means that, if an infrastructure development is set to impact local species populations, developers must minimise this impact and compensate for any disturbance or loss of habitat. Hence, ecological mitigation measures, usually recommended by consultants during ecological impact assessment, have become a keystone policy tool intended to resolve the conflict between development and species conservation. Given the UK governments recent commitments to building 300,000 new homes per year over the next ten years, these measures are vitally important. However, despite their importance and widespread application, practitioners (Hill & Arnold, 2012) have previously indicated there may be limited evidence for the effectiveness of ecological mitigation. so writes Bronwen Hunter, a PhD student at the University of Sussex who recently completed her MSc at Imperial College, London, where she conducted r

Slow worms at Kingsmeadow, Cambridge road, Kingston

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This is a woeful tale in the lack of probity of a council, in its record on biodiversity conservation and the mistrust that its action will engender going forward. It involves the war of attrition on a population of slow worms at Kingsmeadow and a council who:     Gave themselves  planning permission in a flawed application for a hammer cage 19/00873/FUL with 13 mature trees felled; Issued misinformation at an environment committee about the number of trees felled (a quiet apology issued sometime later);  Half-heartedly replaced 22 of the trees, where only 5 survived; Made the site's lessee, Weir Archer, take the fall from an Environment Agency enforcement order 2019, so that landfill waste bulldozed down the Hogsmill river bank was removed at a cost of £8,000; Promoted an announcement for a school- by Sir Edward MP and Lady Davy- at Kingsmeadow in October 2020 (pictured at Kingsmeadow  here) while issuing a planning condition for habitat improvement for slow worms at the same si

Good Growth? Development by RHACC of Hillcroft College, Surbiton by Guest Blogger Claire Mellish

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                          Good Growth? Development by RHACC of Hillcroft College, Surbiton ( link ) As a resident of Berrylands and the Alpha Road Estate, I’m concerned about the proposed development, which is part-funded by the GLA. It is close by and offers education to disadvantaged women across Kingston and nationally. Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College (RHACC), who now own Hillcroft, have a perfect right to sell the college building and develop their land, but it’s an important site for Surbiton, especially for women and the environment. It has an impressive history and educational record, and is well-loved. Someone told me recently that they went to Hillcroft for creative writing classes 33 years ago and Jaqueline Wilson was a student in her class*. Other people who went there have told me that they hate what Richmond Adult Community College is doing to Hillcroft and expressed sadness at the sudden loss of so many of the former staff. It does seem that Ri

New Malden to Raynes Park lighting report

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    The latest report commissioned by Sustrans and the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames by Studio Dekka Limited June 2021 to discharge condition 10 of the planning application for the New Malden to Raynes Lane Cycle track does not demonstrate compliance with the original Bat Survey Report or Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) – updated 2017. I have written to Richard Graves to enquire on the level of involvement his company has had with the bat assessment in the lighting report; he has been quoted in just two paragraphs. I have also stated that our surveys (light and bats) found the corridor no longer usable by bats for commuting at the western end (although foraging areas remain around  mature trees towards  Raynes Park). The report contains raw data with the lux levels calculated at ground level (it does not give the methodology or the conditions at the time).   It does not address bats except that ‘ the Beverley corridor must be protected ’, which is not really the P

'Amazon Land' at the picnic field Chessington World of Adventures 21/02435/FUL

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  There is a new application to build on 1 ha of open land at Chessington World of Adventures (TQ 172 622) with the  removal of 70 trees, and only 21 days to respond. 'Amazon land', will include all things that wouldn't be expected to be found in the Amazon, such as  a new rollercoaster and children’s rides along with associated buildings, structures, landscaping and incidental works. The environmental work for the above application is called an Appraisal (not an Impact Assessment or Preliminary Ecological Assessment). It was carried out in November 2020, not during the growing season, not mentioned as a limitation of the survey, and is submitted nine months later. It purports to be a Phase 1 habitat survey but it doesn't use the JNCC habitat codes and it doesn't give any references, so that we can see which version of the JNCC document it pertains to.  We are not told how long the consultant spent on site so it is really a desk study with photos. However, it does m