The strange case of The Co-operative Estates’ woodland and hedgerow nesting sky lark

The Co-operative Estates have been drip-feeding more information about their plans for Pennbury, the “Eco Town”, sorry “Eco Villages”, being planned for development in Leicestershire.

Mr Ramsbottom, head of land development for the Co-operative Estates says they are “starting with a blank canvas.”

That might be news to the:-

  • 42 badger setts
  • great crested newts (protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
  • bats (protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
  • sparrow hawks
  • sky larks
  • grey partridge
  • red kites
  • barn owls (all birds protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
  • potentially common dormice (protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)

already on-site. And still no word whatsoever from the Co-operative Estates about what they plan to do to protect the wildlife covered under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This lack of information makes that “blank canvas” remark a large cause for concern.

The Co-operative Estates apparently are going to encourage the growth of hedgerows and woodland.

That sounds greenly aspirational, what possibly could be the objection? Simply this: in the 1990s the Co-operative Group ran a farming trial on the land where Pennbury will be built. It was discovered that the soil was too challenging for horticultural crops. So those hedgerows and woodlands are not going to happen.

Let’s see what else Mr Ramsbottom says, “woodland and hedgerows… will encourage the population growth of species including sky larks.”

That must be an extremely rare and very special brand new species of sky larks (have the Co-operative Group been running genetically modified bird experiments on the quiet?) if they are going to be nesting in woodlands and hedgerows. Sky larks are ground nesting birds and need agricultural land.

The government stipulated that only well-researched and planned “eco town” schemes would be shortlisted. The Co-operative Estate’s proposals for Pennbury need a serious re-think.

If the Co-operative Estates do not understand the wildlife they are attempting to encourage us to believe they are trying to promote, if the Co-operative Estates do not even understand the land they are earmarking for Pennbury, this scheme should be rejected. It should not even have been shortlisted.

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