Developers forced to pay a levy to protect wildlife

Brent geese

Brent geese

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, second right, and Minister of State for Schools The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, centre, with representatives from Portchester Community School  and Henry Cort Community College

Fareham schools issue plea to minister over new funding formula

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DEVELOPERS will have to pay a levy to prevent housing developments having a negative impact on protected wildlife species.

Natural England has warned councils it will start objecting to new housing developments from May unless steps are taken to mitigate the impact on wildlife.

Portsmouth City Council is one of the first authorities to produce a formal paper on the issue and proposes developers pay out £172 per new dwelling as a levy.

Havant Borough Council is set to follow suit as well as other authorities, including Fareham, Gosport, Chichester, East Hampshire, and Winchester.

Wez Smith, the RSPB site manager for Langstone and Chichester harbours, supports the levy.

He said: ‘My own perspective is, sadly, it’s a necessary thing. There’s been a lot of development over coastal sites for a number of generations.

‘The species that really need these sites have been pushed back and back.

‘It’s come to the point where any further push would mean they are in danger of disappearing altogether.’

It comes as the Solent now includes three Special Protection Areas (SPAs): Portsmouth Harbour, Chichester and Langstone Harbour, and Solent and Southampton Water.

These areas are protected by stringent European 
laws.

The Solent supports 90,000 wading birds which travel thousands of miles to roost and breed here.

The population of Brent geese in Chichester and Langstone Harbours represents 6.5 per cent of the global population of the species.

A recent study found there was mortality in some species which was being exacerbated by new housing development.

Mitigation measures could include extra dog wardens and rangers to police wildlife-rich coastal sites like Farlington Marshes.

Peter Yeates, a property developer in Havant, said: ‘It’s not going to stop anyone doing anything. It’s just another added cost to housing.’

A report states 2,330 new homes could be built annually around the Solent area.

The levy would apply to homes built within 3.4 miles of the SPAs.

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