A PLAN for two homes in a Forest village have been refused because of the possible effect on bats.
While the applicants had asked Martin Allen that the consideration of a likely significant effect should be based on “real world objective evidence of risk”, he decided to take a “precautionary approach.
Natural England had pointed out that the proposal for Blaisdon Lane, Blaisdon was less than 400 metres from a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is part of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Site Special Area of Conservation (SAC) .
The Blaisdon Hall SSSI is also part of a “core sustenance zone” for greater and less horseshoe bats.
The proposal by Mr Alan Turner and three others was for permission in principle which is an alternative way of obtaining permission for housing development.
There are two stages to a permission in principle application: first establishing whether a site is suitable in-principle and the second when the detailed development proposals are assessed.
The appeal related to the first of these two stages. The law also states that permission in principle cannot be given for habitats development.
Planning inspector Mr Martin Allen said he could not be satisfied that the proposed development would not have a likely significant effect on the SAC.
He added: “I note the appellants’ contention that the consideration of a likely significant effect should be based on “real world objective evidence of risk” however as I have set out, I have adopted a precautionary approach, bearing in mind the proximity to a habitat site.
“I thus find that there is no evidence that the development would have an acceptable effect.”
He said although the site is adjacent to other housing and one of the appellants says he has never seen a bat there, Mr Allen said that did not allay his concern.
Mr Allen concluded: “…in the absence of objective evidence to the contrary, I find that the proposal would be likely to have a significant effect on the SAC and is thus habitats development.
“Therefore, the proposal cannot be considered by way of the Permission in Principle route…”
As well as the impact on bats, Mr Allen said the location of the site and lack of bus routes would mean residents having to rely on cars to access day-to-day services.
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