WILDLIFE IMPORTANCE OF NORTHERN UNITED GIVEN FORMAL RECOGNITION
Wednesday 14th November 2012
(c) Zsuzsanna Bird
A panel of experts from across the county has concluded that the wildlife of the Northern United site in Cinderford - the subject of a controversial planning application - is significant enough for it to be designated as a Key Wildlife Site. While the designation is not legally binding it does confirm what local naturalists have been saying for some time - that Northern United is one of the best sites in Gloucestershire for wildlife.
Dr Colin Studholme from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust which administers the Key Wildlife Sites system (but was not involved in the decision) said: "It is wrong that the Council should be about to determine this planning application - even in outline - when the ecology master plan for the site has not yet been produced as promised. We have submitted our objection to the Council and would urge anyone concerned about the future of this site to object too."
The site has been regenerated very well by nature and has become a haven for wildlife and a place much loved by local people
The Site Selection Panel - made up of representatives from local authorities, Natural England and expert ecologists - unanimously agreed that the site meets the criteria for designation.
Dr Studholme added: "It has become clear in recent months with growing evidence from surveys that the Northern United site is something special. The site has been regenerated very well by nature and has become a haven for wildlife and a place much loved by local people."
The newly designated area, an extension of the Cinderford Linear Park Key Wildlife Site, means that the route of the proposed spine road now passes right through the middle of the Key Wildlife Site.
Dr Studholme concluded: "The designation should make it clear to anyone who was in any doubt about the value of this site for wildlife just how important it is. Clearly locals who were concerned recently about preliminary work on the site were justified in reporting the matter to the police."
The designation comes just as the Forest of Dean District Council is about to consider the planning application for the new spine road.