Saturday, 27 June 2015

Knowle relocation project >>> The site hosts 'what could be the largest population of the endangered lesser horseshoe bat in Devon.'

Observations were made some time ago about the dangers to the bat population at Knowle from development:

EDDC’s surveyors’ Devon Wildlife Consultants state clearly that further surveys are required:

As Building A is to be demolished which will incur destroying a bat roost within Building A and will disturb bat roosts within Building B, it will be necessary to obtain a European Protected Species License (EPSL) from Natural England. Full planning permission would be required prior to submission of an EPSL application and the EPSL is valid for two years. The EPSL can only be issued if the action authorised will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable status. To ensure that the EPSL can be obtained it will be necessary to undertake further surveys which will enable appropriately scaled mitigation measures to be provided:

4.2 Bat Activity Surveys ...two 3 hour surveys undertaken twice a month from April to October with at least one consecutive dusk and pre-dawn survey carried out. [July, August, September, October surveys done in 2012 but not April, May, June]

4.3 Dawn Re-entry Surveys of bat species emerging or re-entering the potential tree roosts identified within Tree Assessment. The results of these surveys can then be used to target specific trees which are proposed for removal for Dawn Re-entry Surveys prior to felling. They.... should be undertaken during the optimal period for bat activity which is May to September (inclusive) [they were not done 2012].

4.4 Further Internal Inspection ...historic evidence of lesser horseshoe bats ... within the loft spaces of Building A... possible that lesser horseshoe bats may return to these loft spaces. Therefore a further inspection and subsequent remote detector surveys (summer and winter) should be undertaken within the year prior to the proposed demolition date.

Futures Forum: "A truly green alternative to EDDC's proposal"

However, in its proposals to change its relocation from Skypark to Honiton, the District Council outlined its plans for the Knowle site - with regard to the bats:

In response to marketing of Knowle and Manstone, a mix of proposals were received, which contained variations on residential, retirement and/or care and extra care communities whilst retaining the public park. All proposals were based on the removal of existing buildings at Knowle (whilst keeping or re-provisioning the bat roost). A range of matters still need to be explored before selecting a preferred bidder but once selected, it will be for the developer to enter into discussions with the planning authority to explore proposals.

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: volte face: the District Council will not be moving to Skypark: "Development at Knowle and changes to destination to be considered by cabinet"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "East Devon District Council has ditched its plan to move to Skypark near to Exeter airport from its current headquarters in Knowle in Sidmouth."

During negotiations for the site, this was confirmed:

In response to a question, the Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that no bidder for the Knowle site expressed an interest in retaining the existing structure, except for the bat roost that would have to remain;

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project ... "the difficulty in predicting future energy rates" ... And: "the overview function was not as strong as under the previous setup" ... Scrutiny Cttee to meet Thursday 26th February

And at the Council meeting in March to confirm the sale of the Knowle site, this was again confirmed:

Marketing Knowle shows that potential developers are not interested in buying a site with council still occupying part of it. Not one wanted to keep any of the buildings apart from the bat house.

However, fears for the bats have resurfaced:

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