Campaigners fear for future of woodland and wildlife if housing estate progresses

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 April 2018

Protesters in the field adjacent to Hollis Avenue, Portishead,

Protesters in the field adjacent to Hollis Avenue, Portishead,

Archant

Hundreds of campaigners fear natural habitats for wildlife will be destroyed if plans to build more than 100 homes near woodland are allowed to proceed.

Early moves have been made to explore the possibility of building a housing estate yards from Weston Big Wood on the edge of Portishead.

While no firm proposals are on the table at this stage, North Somerset Council has been informed of the potential of 125 houses being built there.

The plans have provoked significant opposition from people in Portishead and North Weston who fear it could cause major damage to a site of specific scientific interest.

Campaigner Abby Lefeuvre fears what will happen to rare bats, moths and the ancient woodland if homes are built off Clevedon Road.

She said: “The site is the buffer to Weston Big Wood where animals come to forage and that’s key.

“Development would have a detrimental impact.”

North Somerset Council has ruled an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not required before a planning application is submitted – going against the wishes and advice of Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT), Portishead Town Council and other bodies.

About 250 public comments imploring an EIA is conducted failed to alter the council’s mind.

It believes sufficient mitigation can be made to preserve the ecological sensitivity of nearby areas, such as the woodland.

AWT said the council’s decision is ‘disappointing’ and it is investigating ways to respond.

Ecology reasons aside, the thought of more development in Portishead raises further fears among residents.

Abby said: “We are also thinking of infrastructure, roads, the traffic getting out of Portishead in the morning, schools and healthcare.”

The plans for development remain at an early stage – no planning application has been submitted and there is no guarantee one ever will be.

North Somerset Council has repeatedly said it will refuse to entertain the idea of permitting large-scale housing development on greenbelt land.

Proposed developments including Taylor Wimpey’s plans for 4,500 homes on The Vale near Long Ashton and Barrow Gurney are among those leading councillors have publicly talked against not allowing in the past.

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