Concerns for wildlife ahead of development at Gosport fort

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CONCERNS have been raised about the wildlife at a former Royal Navy fort which is due to be redeveloped.

Permission was given by Gosport Borough Council to turn Fort Gilkicker, in the town, into luxury homes.

If people lived here permanently I fear the this disturbance would be too much for this fragile habitat.

Kevin Ilsley

But worried resident Kevin Ilsley, of Priddy’s Hard, said the development could affect wildlife living within the site.

The 48-year-old said: ‘My concerns about the development are three-fold. The first is for breeding birds like Dartford warbler, which breeds in bushes next to the fort and is very prone to disturbance, and little owl which actually lives inside the fort and would be driven out.

‘Second is the number of rare invertebrates that are found on the south-facing bank and thirdly, the two nearby lakes that are site of special scientific interest.

‘These hold rare marine species confined to similar habitats in southern England.

‘If people lived here permanently, I fear the this disturbance would be too much for this fragile habitat.’

As previously reported in The News, Gosport Borough Council first passed planning permission to convert the fort into luxury homes in 2001. But a developer was not found during the allotted period.

However, Wild Boar Developments have agreed a deal with the former land owners to transform the site into the 22 townhouses and four luxury flats in a £20m project.

Andrew Temperton, managing director of Wild Boar Developments, said before planning permission was given, they carried out thorough investigations.

He said: ‘The planning consent for this development was granted following a public inquiry which took into account detailed investigations into the local bird and other wildlife.

‘The approved scheme includes arrangements to improve and increase bird and wildlife habitats.’

A spokesman for Gosport council added: ‘At various stages of this project, the correct studies on the impact on wildlife have been carried out. These included an updated ecological impact assessment, which was agreed as acceptable by Hampshire County Council’s ecologists.

‘No more development can take place until a survey of over-wintering birds has been done.

‘This is being done now.’