Sculthorpe development ‘would threaten barn owls’

Campaigners claim barn owls will be threatened if 200 homes get the go-ahead at Sculthorpe. Picture:

Campaigners claim barn owls will be threatened if 200 homes get the go-ahead at Sculthorpe. Picture: RON MARSHALL/British Trust for Ornithology - Credit: RON MARSHALL/British Trust for O

Conservationists and councils have lodged their objections to proposals to build 200 new homes in the village.

Amstel Group Corporation wants to develop fields in the centre of the village. It claims new homes are needed to meet demand in the area.

But the Hawk and Owl Trust, which manages the nearby Sculthorpe Moor nature reserve, said the development would have 'a negative effect' on the breeding barn owl population.

It adds: 'This not only applies to bam owls, but also the breeding marsh harriers from Sculthorpe Moor which regularly use this area as hunting ground during the breeding season.'

It says rough grassland on the site is ideal habitat for the short tailed field vole, which is the main prey species of barn owls, with up to three birds recorded hunting over this grassland in search of prey.

The trust adds plans to bring an access road from the development onto the street which links to the A148 would also have a negative impact on barn owls.

'If the barn owls continued to breed in their current locations this new access would bring them into direct conflict with traffic,' it goes on. 'Over 3,000 bam owls are killed on uk roads every year.'

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In its response to the planning application, Sculthorpe Parish Council says: 'The site is completely unsustainable as is shown in the following statements. The site is surrounded by minor unclassified roads - Moor Lane, Creake Road, the Street. These roads are already hazardous/dangerous for existing vehicles and pedestrians.'

It adds the development would increase flooding problems aleady experienced in low-lying areas of the village, where a number of gardens frequently become flooded.

It adds: 'There are negligible employment opportunities in Sculthorpe therefore, out of necessity, considerable traffic will have to travel unsustainably to Fakenham or beyond. This also applies with regard to travel to shops, surgery, entertainment etc. Sustainable developments should be located in Fakenham.'

Fakenham Town Council also objects. In its response, it states: 'The application is outside the core strategy permitted area of development, [it] would be to the detriment of the planned northern development of Fakenham which is part of the core strategy. It would put extra pressure on services, infrastructure and amenities all of which are in Fakenham.'

North Norfolk District Council has not yet set a date when it will discuss the Sculthorpe development.