Badger man blasts council with wildlife ‘eradication’ claim

A PROMINENT wildlife campaigner has accused the council’s head of planning of trying to starve animals off pieces of land earmarked for development.

Don Wise of the Hastings Badger Protection Society launched the stinging attack against Hastings Borough Council (HBC)’s Tim Cookson during the planning committee meeting last Thursday.

He feels HBC officers do not consider wildlife issues enough during the planning process, and claimed that 1,500 lizards had died after being moved off sites for them to be built on.

He thundered: “Mr Cookson’s policy of eradication by starvation is entirely wrong and unacceptable.

“I only deal in facts, a trip with me to a number of sites will prove me correct.

“Legislation protecting wildlife has become more and more effective and must be respected – that includes councillors and council officers.

“Your planning team has failed to date to provide detailed plans of how wildlife will be properly catered for in future years in the borough.”

Mr Wise was speaking against an application to make slight changes to an already approved application to build three new houses at 142 Bexhill Road, St Leonards.

The council planning team said conditions were in place to care for the wildlife which would be affected by the plans but Mr Wise said: “The badger sett and tunnel system have been grossly interfered with on a number of occasions.

“We have details and photographs that prove this statement.”

His allegations come after similar reports of badgers’ homes being targeted last year.

In May, Cllr Phil Scott said he had seen evidence of oil being poured into a sett in Wartling Close, St Leonards.

The sett was on a site with permission for nine new homes to be built on condition the badgers were protected.

But planning committee chairman Cllr Godfrey Daniel dismissed Mr Wise’s allegations.

“This is just nonsense,” he said.

“Whenever a proposed development impacts on the ecology of an area appropriate surveys are required to be submitted with relevant planning applications and these are then fully assessed by the council’s environment and natural resources manager, a professionally qualified ecologist.

“When planning applications are recommended for approval, appropriate planning conditions and in some cases, including this one, legal agreements concerning ecological matters are made a requirement of the planning consent.

“Such conditions and legal agreements seek to ensure that the ecology of a site is safeguarded.”

The council would take action against those who breached the rules, he added.