How many holes are there in the ecological plan?

Many, it appears.

Last week a detailed and excoriating assessment of Tormead’s ecological management plan for the Urnfield development appeared on the borough council’s website. Planners at GBC had clearly (wisely) consulted with Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT), the experts on ecological management, and the organisation whose advice for low light spill was accepted by the planning inspector.

In response to GBC’s request for an assessment of the developer’s ecological management plan, SWT were pretty blunt. To put it in non-ecological terms, this plan (in their view and in ours) is nowhere near being fit for purpose. Why hadn’t the developers surveyed for dormice, or applied for a special protected species licence when they admitted dormice were present in the woodland? Why hadn’t they produced a proper plan to ensure badgers were not harmed? Exactly which trees did they plan to remove and what would go in their place? Why was there no clarity on what constituted “the woodland edge”?

Credit: Getty

I could go on, but you can read it all in full on the planning portal (Condition 4). The point is, Tormead has singularly failed to take adequate care in interfering with, and in some places destroying, the natural environment of the Urnfield and Merrow Downs. The school appears not to care about the impact of this development on the ecosystems of this protected area, the wildlife, or the people who cherish it.

SWT’s assessment is blunt and harsh and it will make for difficult reading for the developer. They have a lot to do to put it right. We do not expect to see any diggers up at the Urnfield on April 17th.



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