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Wildlife Trust rejects council plans to compensate for The Sanctuary

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Proposals put forward by Derby City Council to compensate for habitat loss at The Sanctuary Nature Reserve have been rejected by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

The Council has submitted an application to build an outdoor cycle track on the reserve, next to the velodrome which is currently being built at Pride Park. The site, designated a Local Nature Reserve by the Council in 2006, is the city’s only bird reserve and contains valuable open mosaic grassland habitat used by threatened ground-nesting and rare migrant birds such as skylarks, meadow pipits, snipe, stonechats and lapwings. It is estimated that over 40% of The Sanctuary will be damaged by the development.

The Council has put forward an area of land known as Alvaston Scrub as compensation for the loss of habitats. The Wildlife Trust argues that this is not suitable compensation as it is already a Local Wildlife Site with its own biodiversity value. Using it as compensation would therefore still result in an overall loss of vital wildlife habitats in the city. In addition, the size and nature of the site would make it impossible to create habitats similar to those being lost at The Sanctuary. Birds already in decline nationally such as lapwings and skylarks would not be able to breed at the Alvaston site due to its small size and levels of disturbance by people.

The Trust’s Local Wildlife Sites Officer Trevor Taylor explains: “The basis of compensation is to produce ‘like for like’ habitats at a location appropriate to the habitats and species it is intended to support. The proposed site at Alvaston Scrub fails on all these counts.”

The Council’s Applicant Statement also refers to the New Raynesway Nature Reserve and habitat creation through the Our City Our River project. The Trust points out that these cannot be considered as compensation for The Sanctuary as New Raynesway is part of a mitigation and compensation package for a previous application and the habitat creation associated with Our City Our River will be mitigation as part of a future flood defence scheme..

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager Tim Birch says: “The Council’s proposals are simply not enough to compensate for the loss of this site and its breeding birds. We are maintaining our objection to the planning application and would encourage others to object too. We believe the Council didn’t consider the full financial implications of the biodiversity loss at The Sanctuary when it drew up the application – had it done so it could have included compensatory land acquisition and habitat creation in the funding.”

A coalition of fifteen Derbyshire wildlife groups is urging people to oppose the planning application which offers no suitable mitigation for the damage caused to the LNR. The coalition includes Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Ornithological Society, the local RSPB group and Derby Natural History Society. To find out more contact thesanctuarylnr@gmail.com or visit The Sanctuary page.