Laura Sharman 25 June 2020

Council criticised over loss of bat habitat

Warwick District Council failed to consider bat habitats when approving a new development, an ombudsman has found.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found that council approved the planning application without requiring the developer to consider bats living on the site or pay any compensation for the bio-diverse land lost.

Planning officers also failed to mention the concerns of ecologists they consulted to the planning committee.

As a result, the council has agreed to pay a local wildlife group £1,000 and provide new hibernation boxes for bats.

Nigel Ellis, chief executive at the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: ‘Evidence of at least three different species of bats have been found at the site, and a nearby major infrastructure project had to be relocated because a rare species was found.

’In this case, because the necessary surveys were not conducted at the right time, we can never be sure just what impact the development has had on the local bat population.’

Since the investigation, the council has started looking into whether it can use land it owns to offset the loss of bio-diverse land.

A statement from the council said: 'The council accepts the ombudsman’s recommendations. In the three year’s since the planning permission was granted, the council has established revised processes and practices which seek to ensure the issues identified are not repeated.

'The council will be reporting back to the ombudsman in due course to demonstrate that all recommendations have been, or are being, met.'

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