Sunday, 22 August 2010

Water vole site, Banks, Cont...

Following on from my previous post, here are some closer pictures of water vole activity.
As mentioned, I cant see how any ecologist could miss these signs, and then allow infilling work to start.

It has been mentioned that the land is earmarked for development (Houses).

I wonder what motive there is to infill the ponds? More building land perhaps?

Its difficult for members of the public to act, I know that once our group was informed we had to act fast on this as works were being carried out as we watched. If you have a determined developer they can sometimes try every loophole in order to carry on. Money is such a powerful motivator. It makes me wonder why they just don't include wildlife schemes in the developments, especially when they are in sensitive areas like this one. Surely it would be easier in the long run, as once the authorities find out about protected species, the developer loses time and money. They would also get better support form local residents if they did include good ecology schemes. Not only that but ethically its better. Who wants to live in a concrete jungle. You would think that developer's enjoy wildlife too? Surely they must have a heart buried beneath their concrete lined pockets.

Lets take this site for example ( I'll go into all the other ones on a separate post) Why not just fence the ponds off, build an extra Newt pond, plant trees and nesting boxes on the site perimeter, then build within that? Surely that cant hurt and it would prevent the outrage that this has caused amongst residents.

No one wants to stop building, we know houses must be built but there are alternatives, scale down, relocate development to more suited sites etc. The local authorities need to act on these issues.

The water vole has suffered a massive 90% population decline. Yes you read it right- 90%!
That makes Banks pretty darn special in my eyes, we should be proud of what we have here, the Water Vole! Does it not seem cruel and shortsighted to actually bury it alive? What could have been on the minds of the plant and machinery operator knowing that he is most likely killing voles as he dumps the soil over the burrows?

It beggars belief what goes through the minds of these people.

Water Voles, Banks, Southport, Lancs

Currently in the process of protecting voles which came under threat at beginning of August 2010.
I was notified by a local resident that 2 large ponds were in the process of being pumped dry and infilled.

It was known to the ecology group and from local records (of nearby stream) that these ponds contained water voles. There are 2 large ponds situated in an 'L' formation, almost joined. They are abandoned irrigation ponds for adjacent glasshouse nursery, off Chapel Lane, Banks, Southport.

The police were contacted and apparently an investigation is underway.
Unfortunately damage has been done to both ponds, firstly the ponds have been pumped dry, second the West pond has been 1/3 to 1/2 filled with rubble and soil.

So far since the Wildlife officer from Lancashire police attended, no further works had been carried out. Although it took 2 visits to stop the developers. After the initial visit (by local police) the developer carried on stockpiling the soil over where they had already filled the pond, so by making any buried voles even harder to escape. I doubt the chances of any voles caught under the soil pile. (see pictures)

From a safe point and on adjacent land (with permission) I managed to photograph as much evidence as I could, should I need it.

The ecology group suspects that the developer had knowledge of the voles, and was certainly aware of his duties (having been involved with Voles and crested Newts on a previous building operation) It is a shame that people attempt to undergo covert activity to destroy evidence in order to avoid having to do costly eco projects, relocation, mitigation schemes etc. It is of course easy to bury the evidence. Perhaps this is why the decided to undertake these activities at the weekends and evenings.

Over the last week, thanks to heavy rains, the ponds have began to refill, although with the infill of soil things will not be the same, I hope that the legal system makes them have to restore any damage done and that they are fined for this activity. I would hope they are shown up for what they are. Greedy and money driven. What other explanation can be given.

It has been recently reported by a parish councillor that the developer had undertaken a study prior to works which resulted in negative findings on both ponds. Strange as all the evidence suggest otherwise.

Heres what we found:

Water vole droppings.
Water vole footprints
Water vole burrows.
Water Vole sightings.
Water vole public records in adjacent stream.

Strange that.
What a suprise that the developer didnt find any in these 2 perfect ponds.

I am hoping that the law deals with these people and that they are brought to justice.

Anyone with similar experience please get in touch via blogger, I would love to share ideas to prevent this happening on other sites.

The following authorities were informed.

Local records office, Lancs County Council.
Wildlife Officer, Lancashire Police.
RSPCA becuase voles were buried alive.
Lancashire Wetlands Trust
Environment Agency