LETTER: Right to refuse homes on nature site

Pendle Borough Council has a strong case in defending their refusal to give planning permission at the appeal by Persimmon Homes on July 16th. (“Controversial 203 homes plan sparks more campaign fury”, Leader Times, May 17th).

One of the reasons for refusal is stronger than stated: “The possibility of a biological site by the railway being affected”.

Under Section 41 of the National Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, the Secretary of State must publish a list of the living organisms and types of habitats, which are of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity. A record of “habitats and species of principal importance in England” is contained in the “S41 England Biodiversity List”.

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There are 56 Habitats of Principal Importance in England included on the S41 List. These are all the habitats in England that have been identified as requiring action in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

In particular, part of the Old Railway Sidings Site has been identified as an “open mosaic habitat on previously developed land”, one of the 56 types of “habitats of principle importance in England”.

This habitat was incorporated into the Lancashire Biodiversity Action Plan and approved by Pendle Borough Council as a District Wildlife Site.

The plans of Persimmon Homes show houses would have been built on this designated area, which should be protected from any development.

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Under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, “public bodies”, such as local authorities, have a duty to preserve and enhance biodiversity.

If the inspector at the appeal overturns the refusal to award planning permission, s/he would be contravening existing statutory environmental regulations.

David Penney

BP&R Green Party

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