A LOCAL environmental group are proposing the creation of a new study centre to be built alongside Cinderford’s Northern Quarter to monitor the effects of climate change on wildlife and plants.

Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth (GFoE) are set to present a proposal for the new research facility to Forest of Dean District Council’s Scrutiny Committee as part of an examination of future policy for the development.

The proposal comes as part of a council enquiry into the Cinderford Northern Quarter (CNQ) site, and will be presented to the scrutiny committee by GFoE consultant and "highly-experienced" ecologist Tom Langton.

The group says the centre would be used for research, providing information for visitors, and for educational purposes, with meeting and study rooms, display spaces and a cafe.

Since the district council (FODDC) first secured planning permission for the development, GFoE say that they and other groups have lobbied, taken active advice and court action to prevent the development taking place.

The group says the site has "such a wide range of nationally-important and endangered wildlife and habitats that it is too valuable to be developed".

Development was permitted at the site on the condition that mitigating actions were completed, such as moving "many hundreds" of amphibians, such as great crested newts, across the site and the building of bat roosts.

The group is claiming that in some cases, these actions "cannot be shown to have been successful" and that there is "no evidence" that the creatures moved have thrived, or even survived.

Because of this, GFoE say they are "desperate" to prevent further development "of what is still a controversial site".

Bob Irving, from Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth, said: "Our group not only wants to prevent the further development proposed for this important wildlife site, we also want to put in place active means to ensure its survival indefinitely by creating the proposed Centre.

"Tom Langton is a very experienced ecologist and campaigner and our group is very pleased to have his services in making this proposal for the future of the Northern Quarter."

The council announced in July that it would be undertaking "a full and comprehensive review" into its policies surrounding the CNQ project, as years have now elapsed since they were first made.

All administrative activity associated with the scheme has been paused until the review has been completed.

The £100 million scheme has been under consideration for more than a decade, with planning permission for phase one of the project having been granted in 2014.

A new campus for Gloucestershire College and a section of a spine road leading to it opened four years later in 2018, but progress has stalled since then, due to legal challenges from environmental groups coupled with a lack of available funding.

GFoE say the development has stalled because, with many underground workings, it is "a risky and expensive place to develop".

Friends of the Earth is a national network, covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which campaigns for the protection of "the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it."

The Gloucestershire network is made up of five groups, from Cheltenham, Cirencester, the Forest of Dean, Stroud and Tewkesbury.

The group are calling on local supporters to help prevent further development at the site by writing to their district councillor, preferably before the enquiry ends next Thursday (November 11).

Contact details of district councillors can be found onilne at www.fdean.gov.uk/about-the-council/councillors-and-committees.