The robustness of the planning process in north Norfolk and the consultation work of Natural England have been criticised after the apparent discovery of a protected species close to where plans for a lorry park have been approved.

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People in Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, who have had a long-running campaign opposing a maltings expansion scheme claim to have found great crested newt habitation 165m from the planned developments which include a lorry park, two silos and associated facilities.

This evidence was not recorded during the planning process and North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) granted The Crisp Maltings Group planning permission for the developments at its Great Ryburgh site.

The EDP has previously reported how members of the Ryburgh Village Amenity Group (RVAG) has been given permission by the high court to seek a judicial review against NNDC and Natural England.

The judicial review is due to take place between April 23 and April 26.

But, following their recently-discovered evidence of the great crested newt habitation, they want NNDC to rescind the planning consent and initiate a full Environmental Impact Assessment of the site.

RVAG spokesman David Dalton says in a letter to NNDC and Natural England: “Taking this decisive action now is likely to save significant further expenditure of taxpayers’ money in attempting to defend the indefensible at the forthcoming judicial review.”

His letter points to Natural England’s own guidelines which state if there is any possibility of great crested newt habitation within 500m of a potential development, a proper survey should be carried out.

The letter states: “There are several potential breeding ponds and ditches well within 500m but no attempt was made to survey them.

“This discovery adds weight to the argument that Natural England was simply not diligent enough when accepting at face value the evidence provided by the planning applicant.

“Natural England should have proposed an independent Environmental Impact Assessment, if it wasn’t prepared to conduct further investigations of its own.”

Natural England has acknowledged that it did not send a representative to visit the site before giving its advice in the consultation process but believe that correct procedure was followed.

A Natural England spokesman said: “Natural England’s statutory role in planning cases is to advise the local planning authority on potential impacts on protected sites and species. This advice is based on research carried out by independent ecological consultants on behalf of the developer. It is aimed at ensuring that UK and European conservation laws are observed during the planning process.

“In this case Natural England, having studied the independent research in 2010 which confirmed that the site contained no habitat to support great crested newts and that their presence was therefore unlikely, concluded that the proposed development would have no adverse impact on any protected species.

“If it subsequently becomes apparent that great crested newts are on site then it is the responsibility of the developer to take steps to mitigate disturbance to the newts or apply for a licence from Natural England to move the newts carefully for their long-term protection.

“Natural England has since conducted a review of its advice in this case and is confident that all proper procedures were followed by its staff.”

An NNDC spokesperson said: “The application is subject to a judicial review. The council is currently considering a letter from the RVAG regarding the possible evidence of a great crested newt being discovered near the proposed lorry site.”

10 comments

  • A case of Newts In My Back Yard. NIMBY

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    nicholas dasey

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Actually, Nicholas Dasey, work hasn’t started yet because a High Court Judge feels that there are sufficient grounds to review the decision to grant planning permission. Therefore, by pointing out further deficiencies in the development plan, we’re giving the council a last-minute opportunity to change its mind now, rather than spend taxpayers’ money in defending the indefensible at a Judicial Review. As for being ‘part of the rural economy’, Daisy Roots, does it sound appropriate for a ‘rural’ business based in a small village served by a ‘C’ road to add an eight-acre lorry park for 25 HGVs? Or does that sound more like a large-scale industrial plant better suited to one of the many vacant brownfield sites in the county. So big, it’s more like NIEBY – Not In Everyone’s Back Yard – in this case.

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    David Dalton

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Or those rare Dersingham moths midnorfolkman. Or those terribly "rare" habitats and must be preserved flora on bits of common land supposed by assorted organisations and move ins to be awfully ancient and so of especial value but which are in fact run to seed grazing commons which some of us can remember stocked with cattle , properly drained and few or no trees etc. I think the people at Great Ryburgh protest a bit much, the maltings have been there for donkeys years, and are part of the rural economy..Also, with the proximity of the river , old gravel workings and lots of damp grassland to the village and the maltings it would probably be hard not to find newts close to anything thereabouts . The newts have got a pretty good choice of alternative locations available to them to move to. I expect they are quite easy to find and relocate ...

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • A case of "Planet of the Newts" I find it strange that this, as well as the A11 dualling, have been long winded affairs and as soon as work starts the newts rear their head right on cue.

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    nicholas dasey

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Fascinating how neighbouring local authorities handle things so differently, not. I complained last Spring when a large section of mature hedgerow and several large trees were ripped out to make way for wind turbines. The applicant's spouse is a parish councillor and big mates with the district council, so needless to say the district council turned a blind eye to the apparent law-breaking. If only I had thought of newts, then perhaps NE could have got involved.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • As it happens, Nicholas Dasey, work hasn’t started yet because a High Court Judge feels that there are sufficient grounds to review the decision to grant planning permission. Therefore, by pointing out further deficiencies in the development plan, we’re giving the council a last-minute opportunity to change its mind now, rather than spend taxpayers’ money in defending the indefensible at a Judicial Review. As for being ‘part of the rural economy’, Daisy Roots, does it sound appropriate for a ‘rural’ business based in a small village served by a ‘C’ road to add an eight-acre lorry park for 25 HGVs? Or does that sound more like a large-scale industrial plant better suited to one of the many vacant brownfield sites in the county. So big, it’s more like NIEBY – Not In Everyone’s Back Yard – in this case.

    Report this comment

    David Dalton

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • No doubt the usual great raft spiders can also be expected to make an appearance !

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    midnorfolkman

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Actually we've already got a large factory in our back yard. We live with that. We just didn't want it on the patio as well. As for the maltings being there donkeys years - a bit of a myth put about by the maltings themselves. It began in the 1860s with less than an acre. The site was almost derelict until the 1960s - and has already doubled in size since the late 80s. It now covers 16 acres - and they want to concrete over another 7 acres. Given the scale of the development, in a European designated conservation area, it just would have been nice if Natural England had actually bothered to come and look at the site rather than rely upon a report paid for by the developer.

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    matt champion

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • Daisy Roots. The thing about Ryburgh is that the people who live here care about the place they live in and the people who make up our community. This is one of the reasons it received recognition as a winner in this years EDP Pride in Norfolk awards. Our community, like many is made up of families who have lived here for generations, families that moved away and returned and 'move-ins'. It is this mixture of people of all ages and all walks of life, that are pulling together to ensure our communities future is bright.

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    The Green Owl

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • I love the way local communities either blame wildlife for halting development they want, and then use it as a stick to beat NE with if its development they don't want. Criticised for being too precautionary, then elsewhere for being not precautionary enough. Who'd want to be an NE officer?

    Report this comment

    beeston bump

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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