by Barrie Galpin
Many of you will know Fineshade Wood, even though it is at the far north of Northants. It is a large area of Forestry Commission Woodland, and part of the historic Rockingham Forest.
There is a proposal by Forest Holidays to build a 70-cabin holiday park on 96 acres of this part of the Public Forest Estate – a proposal that will devastate a very important wildlife-rich area. Fineshade has been developed as a walking and cycling destination in recent years with a network of forest trails and the former RSPB Visitor Centre. There are still important undisturbed areas where human access is difficult – which is what makes it great for birds and reptiles in particular. In one of these areas of semi-natural woodland, north east of the visitor centre Forest Holidays plan to build a network of 2 miles of new forest tracks leading to 70 cabins, a central leisure block, maintenance site and 189 parking spaces. There will be year-round accommodation for 352 people within the depths of the wood. 352 people having a normal holiday experience i.e. making noise, having barbecues, walking dogs, starting and driving cars, switching on lights, playing music etc..
Such a devastating development would normally require an Environmental Impact Assesment but the planning application now before East Northants Council is accompanied by only a “Preliminary Ecological Report”. There has been a partial survey of reptiles and amphibians, no survey of breeding birds (they rely BTO and county records) , no bat survey, no survey of dormice, a partial plant survey. They do not even appear to have considered Butterflies, Moths and other invertebrates.
The Wildlife Trust together with local and national wildlife groups will be making their comments to the Council but we really need a huge swell of supporting objections from individual birders and naturalists. Please can you help? You can do so simply by sending an email now. Details are below.
The threat to birds
The following birds are listed in the FH report
“Red list species that have been recorded include: Song Thrush, Tree Pipit, Yellow Hammer, Marsh Tit, Grasshopper Warbler, Nightjar, Willow Tit, Skylark and Cuckoo. Amber list species that have been recorded include: Dunnock, Garden Warbler, Red Kite, Redstart, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Mistle Thrush.”
To that I can add Long-eared Owls and roding Woodcock this year.
They conclude “therefore the site is of at least county importance for birds”. They reach a similar conclusion for reptiles, particularly adders.
Suggested “Mitigation and Enhancement” amounts to don’t clear the vegetation during the nesting season, try to create some good habitat elsewhere and stick up some bird boxes!
The planning application
The full application is online here, where objections can also be lodged
The reference number for the application is 14/01156/FUL.
The deadline for objections is 23 July but please do it now
How to object:
You can object by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or online or by letter to
Planning comments, East Northants Council, Cedar Drive, Thrapston NN14 4LZ
You must give your name and address and include the reference number 14/01156/FUL and use the word objection very clearly.
More reasons to object?
Please email Fineshade.email@example.com for more details, particularly about unsuitable vehicle access.
PLEASE OBJECT NOW