As we approach what would normally be our new season, I am sure that everyone realises that things are going to be different for the L.O.S. for quite a while yet. We currently have no plans to hold any Friday night presentation meetings at Leigh Library, but weekend field trips will probably be going ahead. Please use our Facebook group and our main website pages to keep up to date with the details of any L.O.S. activities.
The L.O.S. has sent in an objection letter to the proposed Westleigh Waterfront development. Please seriously consider lodging your own objection of up to 2000 words on the Wigan Council planning portal. Instructions for how to register are on the excellent wwrag.co.uk website.
Here's the most important section of the letter:
We wish to support the objection made by WWRAG to this scheme for the following reasons:
1. The loss of three quarters of three hectares of mature woodland and 80-90% of tree cover will deprive resident birds and bats of breeding and roosting areas. Some of the birds are red and amber listed.
A bird survey was not carried out by the developer's ecologist as part of the EIA however local residents have carried out such surveys and these have been forwarded to GMEU and is copied in the main objection.
2. Habitat loss. Parts of the site are certainly 'Brownfield' in nature, but this does NOT mean that they have no value – indeed, far from it.
The Department for Communities and Local Government Planning Practice Guidance on Natural Environment (21.1.2016) includes the following paragraph:
“Can brownfield land have a high ecological value?
It can do. A core principle in the National Planning Policy Framework is to encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value. This means that planning needs to take account of issues such as the biodiversity value which may be present on a brownfield site before decisions are taken.”
We at the L.O.S. would argue that the land for proposed development at Westleigh Waterfront is of high environmental value because of the diversity of bird species recorded on and around the area, which in turn is due to the diversity of habitat present. This is characteristic of land that has been “re-invaded” by nature in a post-industrial setting.
Vital habitat for nesting and foraging for RSPB red and amber listed birds would be threatened or lost. This categorisation is taken from the internationally recognized December 2015 “Birds of Conservation Concern 4” survey by the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, and several other conservation agencies.
Red listed birds are defined as:
Species are globally threatened.
· Historical population decline in UK during 1800–1995.
· Severe (at least 50%) decline in UK breeding population over last 25 years.
· Severe (at least 50%) contraction of UK breeding range over last 25 years, or the longer-term period.
The following red-listed birds have been recorded as resident or breeding on the site. Cuckoo, willow tit, starling,song thrush, mistle thrush and linnet.
3 The site is an important part of two wildlife corridors. On a large scale, the corridor linking South Lancashire and Cheshire Mosses and the West Pennine moors for migrating birds such as the northern wheatear, whinchat and meadow pipit. On a more local scale, but perhaps even more vital for the borough, it provides a green link between the Country Parks at Bickershaw and at Pennington Flash. Wildlife needs these corridors to be uninterrupted, to allow movement between sites, particularly when there are pressures on certain areas during intense public use such as the Ironman event at Pennington. If these links cease to exist, it is well-known that bird and animal life will leave such areas permanently, in search of locations where they can be less disturbed.
4 The proposed development is adjacent to Pennington country park which is of national importance for birds and wildlife. The building of 450 houses and a through road will inevitably affect those creatures which depend on it for feeding and breeding
5 This proposal represents a further loss of green areas and woodland which not only have an impact on nature but also on local residents for whom such open spaces are an amenity and a resource. We can ill afford to let another green space be taken up by development.
6. This loss of green space needs to be seen in the wider context of the borough-wide threat to such areas. As a reminder in the area next to or close to Atherleigh Way there are approved developments at:
· Leigh north between the Atherleigh Way bypass and Hindley Green: 1800 houses. The developer failed to include recreational space in its application.
· Pocket Nook, Lowton: 600 houses
· Atherton south: 850 houses
In addition, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) includes developments West of Gibfield at the north end of Atherleigh way (550 houses) and of 180,000 m2 of industrial building at Pennington South.
All this development work will destroy green space and this area of Leigh borough must be the most affected area in both Wigan Borough and Greater Manchester County.
Across the UK, people are becoming more and more aware of the value of green space, and all the more in this current crisis where travel is limited and people are needing to find local resources for both physical and mental recreation. The continual infilling of green areas in our borough with housing, business and industrial development is completely out of balance with this change of public opinion, and the increasing desire to leave a green legacy for future generations to enjoy.