A CONTROVERSIAL bid to turn a remnant of the ancient Forest of Bere into a pet cemetery has taken a new twist.
Protesters who campaigned against the proposal believed Havant Borough Council’s planning committee had given the green light to the plans for Johnston’s Coppice, in Purbrook Way, Purbrook.
In January councillors voted to give officers the authority to approve the application with appropriate conditions, provided there were no further objections from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the county ecologist.
But the trust has now written back to the council, objecting to the plans because of fears the cemetery could potentially affect protected dormice and bat populations.
The objection means that the application has been called back into the planning committee and members will take another vote.
Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth, said: ‘The question that remains to be answered objectively and independently is whether legally protected species such as dormice and bats would be fully protected under the scheme.
‘That has to be judged by an independent ecologist.’
But council officers are still recommending the plan is approved after further correspondence has been received by the applicant, Terena Plowright, a well-known environmentalist from Petersfield.
Her statement says: ‘If dormice are present on the site, it is likely that they will be using most of the habitats present across the area, whereas the burial area is largely restricted to the central part of the site.
‘Only approximately one-seventh of the area will be used for burials each year. ‘
It adds: ‘The activities of the cemetery would not have a significant impact on the local population of dormice if found.’
The county’s ecologist says Mrs Plowright may have to be prepared to carry out a full dormouse survey.
A council report says the plans would ‘bring overall benefits to the area and provide the local community with an interesting and engaging project which seeks to secure the long-term future of the woodland for the community.’
The meeting takes place from 5pm at The Plaza on Thursday.