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Badgers, Planning, and Victory for the St Ives Badgers

West Cornwall Badger Group - 04 Aug 2001

The West Cornwall Badger Group (Brock) is part of the National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG). For more information, please Email cornwallbadgers@aol.com


"West Cornwall Badger Group are delighted to announce that, following the site visit on 18 July 2001 by Planning Inspector Mr J L Dickinson, planning permission for the proposed development at Clodgy View, St Ives has been refused.

We would like to thank everyone that has helped in the fight to protect this large and active badger sett, and particularly Mr Dickinson for his understanding of the consequences to the badgers had this proposal been allowed to go ahead.

Anyone who would like further information is welcome to attend the next West Cornwall Badger Group public meeting at The Acorn Theatre, Penzance at 7.30pmon Tuesday August 14th to be presented by Dr Elaine King a leading expert on badger ecology and Conservation Officer for the National Federation of Badger Groups. All welcome - free admission!

Roger Driver Co-ordinator,
West Cornwall Badger Group
Saturday, 4th August 2001"


Reproduced below is the Inspector's Report.

Summary of Decision: The appeal is dismissed and planning permission is refused.

Appeal Ref. APPIL0825/A/0111062271

Site address. Chymorva, Clodgy View, St Ives

Procedural and Policy Matters

1. Although the adjoining site to the east contains a large, single storey wooden building this has a "temporary" appearance and is seemingly disused. Consequently it, together with the appeal site, form a relatively small gap in an otherwise built-up frontage lining the southern side of Clodgy View. As a result there is no objection in principle to the development of the site or to the appearance of the proposed building. However the proposals are opposed because development may affect a badger sett.

2. In regard to this issue there is no dispute that despite the fact that the site lies well within the recognisable built-up limits of the town, both it, and its neighbour, house a large and active badger sett. Furthermore, although some neighbours strongly object to the presence of badgers within a built-up residential area, there is no dispute that badgers are a protected species under either the provisions of the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act (PBA) or the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act - where they are listed under Schedule 6. This last Act effectively states that badgers may not be killed or taken by certain methods and is therefore of less significance than the PBA in the determination of this appeal.

3. Amongst other things the PBA makes it an offence to damage a sett or to disturb badgers when they are occupying it. Additionally paragraph 47 of the1994 PPG9 states that the presence of a protected species is a material consideration when planning permission is being determined. It therefore follows that in this particular case determination may not necessarily accord with the development plan - as is otherwise required by Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended.

Main Issue

4. Having regard to the above, and from my consideration of all the representations and my findings on inspection, I have concluded that there is but one issue in this case. That is, whether the proposed development is likely to materially and unacceptably affect the badger sett.

Reasons

5. Inspection showed that the front (north) section of the site is hard surfaced and apparently badger free. I therefore accept that the appellant has tried to avoid unnecessary damage to the sett by producing a design in which the rear portion of the proposed house is to be supported on beams. This design would, in theory at least, only require 3 relatively small piers to be constructed within the badger occupied zone. Additionally all services needing to cross the badger zone would be placed in a trench alongside the western boundary in an area assumed to be badger free.

6. In such circumstances it is not surprising that support for the proposal has been forthcoming from Environmental Consultants (CTNC) Ltd (EC) and that, largely because of this, English Nature have not opposed development. Furthermore, it does not come as a surprise that the latter have also suggested that, providing certain safeguards are observed, they should have no difficulty in issuing the necessary licence for the works.

7. Notwithstanding this however, inspection showed that the site is little more than a very dense bramble patch and detailed examination to determine the extent of badger activity is clearly not possible. Similarly, the extent of badger activity on the adjoining site also cannot be properly assessed because that site is largely covered by a wooden building. It is therefore understandable that the EC report is couched in somewhat generalised terms including reference to the fact that their assessment "is based on the assumption from previous surveys that the construction will not impact directly on any active sett entrances". Although no details of these previous surveys are given it is implied that these showed that most badger activity was "contained within the left hand (eastern) margin of the plot".

8 However, inspection showed freshly dug entrances under all sides of the wooden hut and along the whole length of the wall dividing the badger zone from the hard surfaced area of the appeal site. As these areas were the only parts of the combined sites that were open to view it seems to me that, with such visual evidence, it cannot reasonably be held other than that the whole of the soft surfaced area of the site is likely to be affected by badger activity. I therefore do not consider that it has been shown that excavations required for pier construction and the service trench will not materially damage the sett nor unacceptably disturb the badgers within it. I have consequently concluded that granting permission would be in conflict with the requirements of the PBA and that this permits a determination which is not necessarily in accordance with the development plan.

Conclusion

9. For the reasons given above and having regard to all other matters raised I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.

Formal Decision

10. In exercise of the powers transferred to me I hereby dismiss this appeal and refuse planning permission for the erection of a detached dwelling at Chymorva, Clodgy View, St Ives.

Information

11. A separate note is attached setting out the circumstances in which the validity of this decision may be challenged by making an application to theHigh Court within 6 weeks from the date of this decision.

J L Dickinson- Inspector


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