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Could bugs scupper Dry Street plans
A WILDLIFE expert claims more studies are needed of the bug and insect populations in Dry Street before plans for 725 homes on the land go before councillors.
Rod Cole, records keeper for Essex Wildlife Trust has slammed an environmental report on the invertebrates inhabiting the meadows as inadequate.
He claims if councillors make their decision over whether to grant planning permission for the housing estate with shops and primary school based solely on the surveys carried out last year an array of protected bugs could be under threat.
The development comes after the Echo last week revealed that a confidential badger survey showed the population of the protected mammals would be harmed by the development with three setts destroyed.
Mr Cole, who also said the wildlife trust had not been consulted in a timely manner, said 2012 was a bad year for invertebrates due to weather conditions and the results showing 394 species across the entire site were much lower populations than would usually be present.
The land, which is part of the Langdon Hills ridge of country parks and nature reserves, was designated an Essex county wildlife site in 2005 due to its rich flora and invertebrates.
Mr Cole said species recorded there in past surveys not being looked at by councillors included 28 butterfly species including the rare grizzled skipper, plus ten bumble bee species, two of which are protected, and moths and hoverflies.
He said: “The (survey’s) verdict does not bear scrutiny. Its dismissal of the Dry Street site as being of simply local value for invertebrates has not been demonstrated, and it is at variance with all the information available.
The competence of the desk study is particularly open to question. Why was Butterfly Conservation not approached for data? And why, indeed, was the Basildon Natural History Society not approached?.
A more rigorous investigation is needed.”
The application has been made by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, which promotes house building across the country, and owns most of the site, but also has support from Basildon Council.
Council leader Tony Ball said: “No date has been set for the committee yet as environmental information is still being compiled.”
A spokeswoman for the agency said: “The environmental consultancy, which prepared the environmental reports on behalf of the applicant stands by the robustness of the ecological assessment carried out.
All of the necessary ecological and other environmental surveys undertaken have been carried out in accordance with best practice guidelines by experts in the relevant field.“