Work on Portchester land to prepare it for housing labelled as '˜wildlife vandalism'

RESIDENTS have called investigative works on a former allotments site as '˜wildlife vandalism.'

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 1:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 3:46 pm

Land off Moraunt Drive in Portchester has been subject to diggers and heavy machinery since August after the landowners sought to present the site forward for a housing development of 55 homes.

The work has led to a bitter dispute with the nearby residents, who are calling for work to cease immediately after they found that species such as and common lizards - protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - had been injured and were being displaced from their natural habitat.

Residents previously blockaded an access to the site last week in a stand of defiance.

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Mel Hefford, a Portchester resident, who is also a wildlife conservationist said: ‘It is wildlife vandalism.

‘The species that have been living here for so long have had their habitats severely compromised.

‘We have found common lizards which have been injured, within five metres of the site. It is just not acceptable as this site is teeming with wildlife and we have got to put a stop to the damage before it gets worse.’

Site owners the Churchlands Trust and Danisco said that the work is being supervised by an appointed ecologist.

However, Ms Hefford says that the work is not being done at the right time of the year as most of the species on the site are entering months of hibernation.

She said an ecological study should be carried out in April following the hibernation months.

Pat Rook, of Albion Close added: ‘All the work that has been done so far has been underhand. It’s like they’ve carried it out with their eyes firmly shut.

A spokesman for the land owners said that works were scheduled to finish yesterday.

He also said tree surgeons were given a ‘thorough briefing’ in terms of identifying wildlife and what to do if any were found.

He added: ‘Routes were checked prior to putting plant on to the site and strictly kept so, eliminating the risk to wildlife.’