Rare species of bat discovered at Javelin Park could scupper incinerator plans
ENDANGERED species of bat seen at Javelin Park could scupper plans to build a £500 million incinerator at the site.
An independent report commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council says that planning permission for the facility should be refused because not enough information is known about the rare bat populations inhabiting the area.
Barbastelle and greater horseshoe bats have both been spotted at Javelin Park and according to Bureau Veritas, the consultancy firm who prepared the report, the site may form part of ‘a wider foraging area or commuting route for them’.
The report, which appeared on GCC’s website before disappearing around 24 hours later, says that the potential importance of the site to the bats has been underplayed.
Bureau Veritas were commissioned by GCC’s planning department to review the Environmental Statement accompanying Urbaser Balfour Beatty’s planning application.
Included within that Environmental Statement was a bat activity report completed by consultants acting on behalf of Urbaser.
Bureau Veritas say that the bat survey information collected by those consultants and provided by Urbaser is ‘insufficient’ and that their assessment of possible effects upon the creatures is ‘not competent’.
They add that the bat survey information supplied by Urbaser as part of its application is ‘misleading and underplays the importance of the species recorded’.
"It is not possible to assess the value of the site and boundary to greater horseshoe bats based upon the level of survey effort undertaken to date," the authors of the report say.
Estimates suggest there are only 4,000 greater horseshoe bats living wild in the UK and a more detailed survey now needs to be undertaken, Bureau Veritas say, to establish the size of the colony present at the Javelin Park site.
They also state in their report, completed in April, that planning permission for the burner should be refused on traffic and transportation grounds.
In their opinion Urbaser has yet to "satisfactorily establish that the development will not have a detrimental effect on the capacity of the highway network, the surrounding environment or the local neighbourhood."
With lorries transporting waste to and from the site, they add that the effect of the plant on highways safety is ‘uncertain’.
Bureau Veritas’ report was uploaded to GCC’s website on Friday, June 15, but vanished within 24 hours according to GlosVAIN spokesman Ian Richens, who managed to download a copy and send it to the SNJ before it disappeared.
GCC has been criticised in the past for removing public comments concerning the Javelin Park planning application from its website and Mr Richens is demanding to know why Bureau Veritas’ report has now been taken down.
"We want to know who is making the decision to take things off of the website which have the right to be viewed by the public," he said.
"Bureau Veritas are recommending that planning permission be rejected so this information is dynamite really and it should be in the public domain."
Duncan Jordan, GCC's chief operating officer, said: "We have commissioned a technical report into the planning issues around the Javelin Park development, the purpose of which is to raise issues for the applicant to clarify before the application is considered.
"The report was put on the website before they had the opportunity to respond. We’ve taken it down to allow them time to formally address those issues. Of course, before any planning application is considered all relevant documents will be published in full."
Dr Roger Ransome, a world renowned bat expert and visiting fellow at Bristol University’s school of biological sciences, said: "Barbastelle and greater horseshoe bats are both endangered species and their foraging areas are protected under government legislation.
"Their presence would certainly influence the planning application. Wildlife legislation is taken very seriously but it can be overruled."