Posted by: swinemoor | April 2, 2014

Bats, Bad Press and Prosecution

P J Livesey, the developers of the former Westwood Hospital site have submitted amended plans for the site to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council: so says a letter from Peter Ashcroft dated 31st March 2014. The relevant documentation is now on the ERYC Planning Portal, however, it is very difficult to find the appropriate documents in amongst all the other documents pertaining to the application. The best way appears to be using the date 28th March, however, the most recent documents are not sorted in date order (or any order for that matter!) so it is a very time-consuming exercise.

A quick(ish) review of the documentation reveals no real changes to the application in terms of demolition proposals or tree cutting although it is refreshing to note that the access route over Westwood pasture appears to have been abandoned. Ground levels are still a concern although there has been some movement here and, sadly, all the drainage is still to be discharged into the combined sewer.

Whilst some of this is good news, it is concerning that there is no mention of bats in the amended proposals in spite of the fact that there are at least two known bat roosts in buildings scheduled for demolition. The Local Planning Authority cannot grant planning permission until firm plans for dealing with the impacts on these species have been agreed and have passed the ‘three tests’. Saying that a Natural England licence will be applied for is not enough under planning law.

It would appear that in the case of bats, P J Livesey have form and have been prosecuted for destroying bat roosts in the past, without having applied for a licence (which may not have been granted). This is not the only example, they also got their fingers burned in Crewe in 2008.  If Livesey’s do eventually develop the Beverley Westwood site, we at NSH hope that they act within the law and work with the bats on the site in a sensitive manner and not with the cavalier attitude they have shown elsewhere.


Responses

  1. Bats are protected by law, if ERYC and the developer do not act appropriately then they risk challenge and possible prosecution and this would not be good press for either. Surely, with the level of forensic scrutiny on this ‘development’ both parties will be keen to demonstrate very best practice not just compliance?

    • You are, of course, right. However, it is the LPA (ERYC) that must apply three tests BEFORE granting planning permission. It is illegal to grant planning permission and then deal with bats in planning conditions.
      The three tests ERYC must apply are:
      1. Is the development necessary for reasons of overriding public interest? Unlikely.
      2. Is there a satisfactory alternative? Highly likely.
      3. Does the development ensure the maintenance of the favourable conservation status (no net loss) of the species’ populations? Impossible to determine at this point in time as there is not enough baseline data.

      In view of this ERYC cannot grant planning permission until further surveys are done or unless there are major changes to the current plans for the site. If planning permission were granted now it would be open to challenge in the courts. In addition, if the developers apply for a disturbance licence from Natural England, once planning permission had been granted, then Natural England would apply the same three tests , using the precautionary principle, and risk having their application refused. If works proceeded without a licence then the developers would risk prosecution, however, P J Livesey are no stranger to this when it comes to bats.


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