If the proposed planning application for HFC’s new home goes ahead then the resulting match with the local wildlife will be a very, very one sided game. If the proposed planning application for HFC’s new home goes ahead then the resulting match with the local wildlife will be a very, very one sided game.
The proposed site sits alongside ancient woodland and pond that are home to endangered/protected species of bats and great crested newts.
Although the proposed design retains the woodland, some remodelling of the adjacent pond will be necessary to accommodate the layout of the 3G pitches.
This will affect the Great Crested Newts that use it for breeding, and the artificial surfacing over both pitches in close proximity to the pond will impede their well established routes to the pond during mating season. These small creatures are in decline despite their protected status, this can only add to that decline.
Bats are also a protected species, and surveys commissioned by HFC themselves have recorded bat activity on the proposed site increase significantly from 2014 to 2016. The published Planning Statement states that the floodlighting will only be used during the winter months and are unlikely to affect the bat population.
However, the aim of HFC is to hire out the pitches seven days a week, up to 10pm weekdays therefore I find the Planning Statement misleading as the floodlights will be required all year round! With bat roosts close to the proposed pitches and bat activity high, this must have a major impact, restricting bats from exiting their roosts for purposes of foraging.
In addition to the intrusive nature of the floodlights, high safety netting to protect the ancient woodland, and high safety netting, (in similar situations up to 30m high), to protect footballers and spectators from golf balls hit from the adjacent driving range and junior golf course will be required.
These nets will have an impact on both bats and birdlife, including a number of species of birds of prey prevalent in this countryside location. The height of the netting will mean little chance of rescue for the unfortunate bats and birds sadly becoming entangled.
Both the extended use of the floodlighting, and the erection of very high netting appear to have been overlooked in the Environmental Statement prepared for this planning application!
While HFC certainly require a home, this is clearly not the right location given this historic landscape which is home to a diverse range of precious wildlife.
Lastly let’s not forget that the application involves re-surfacing at least 3.5 acres of countryside which will be lost for ever.
Worthing Road, Horsham
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