BAT-SIGHTING PUTS PRESSURE ON VALE COUNCIL TO HALT NORTHCLIFF LODGE DEVELOPMENT

A police car in Paget Place Penarth yesterday. A local resident has made a statement to the police saying she has sighted bat activity in the area – a discovery which could call a halt to the development of the  “Saint Adresse” (sic) 30-apartment-development at Northcliff Lodge

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department is coming under increasing pressure to enforce an immediate halt to ground works and tree felling on the site of  controversial 30-apartment Northcliff Lodge development off Paget Place, Penarth.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour St Augustines) had raised a string of sharp questions about the development in last  September’s planning committee

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour St Augustines) says “It seems clear that serious offences under the wildlife protection legislation are being committed and that the Vale as responsible authority are duty bound to act with all urgency to prevent further breaches of the law. I would expect officers to take immediate action to prevent further hard felling and wood chipping of possibly inhabited branches etc. and to take steps to prosecute the developers who are choosing to ignore their responsibilities.”

The  matter has been referred to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department by the chairman of the Vale Planning Committee Cllr Ben Gray (Conservative St Augustines)

Some local residents claim that Pipistrelle bats live in the area – but the Northcliff Lodge developers say the survey which they commissioned discovere no evidence of bats there.

Concerns have arisen following a report of bats – a protected species – being sighted in the vicinity of Northcliff Lodge by a local resident, who has made a statement to the police.

The Northcliff Lodge developers had originally told the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee in September 2017 that a survey which they had commissioned had indicated there were no bats on the site

It was on the basis of that re-assurance – given by the developers –  that planning permission for the development of 30 new apartments was agreed by the planning committee.

The distinguished environmentalist Dr Max Wallis raised concerns about the adequacy of the bat survey

However in that planning committee meeting the distinguished environmentalist Dr Max Wallis raised concerns about the adequacy of the bat survey commissioned by the developers and  said that contrary to the assertions of the developers,  bats were “abundant” in the area of Northcliff Lodge.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s principal planning officer Stephen Butler however  re-iterated however that no bat roost had been found at Northcliff Lodge.

However at that same meeting Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour St Augustines) had  raised a number of sharp questions about the development and had said that the developer’s “bat survey” had been conducted at the beginning of the animals’ hibernation period.

The bat issue had also been raised at the meeting by Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour Stanwell) who said she had  concerns “over the potential bat population” at Northcliff Lodge and had seen high levels of bat activity when standing on one of the balconies of the existing 1970s Northcliff flats development.  Cllr Burnett made the point that bats were not easy to spot and said it was therefore necessary to have proper in-depth long-term surveys carried out at the Northcliff Lodge site to establish bat presence.

Now it seems the caveats about Northcliff Lodge bats which were expressed  (but dismissed)  at the September 2017 planning committee meeting, are coming home to roost. The sequence of events is now as follows:- 

On December 17th 2017 an alleged “crime” was reported to South Wales Police by one of a number of concerned local residents [ i.e. development in an area inhabited by bats] and an official crime number – 1700490365 – was issued.  A spokesman for South Wales Police has told PDN “We have been made aware of concerns and the matter is being looked into.”  

A hand held bat detector of the type used by Emma Perry to prove that bats are still about in the Northcliff Lodge area

On December 21 2017 a local resident Emma Perry notified South Wales Police that  the previous day (December 20th at 14:15)  a bat had been sighted at the “Northcliffe Estate” [ i.e. Northcliff Lodge] . She told the police in a statement that – using a “Magenta Bat 5 Digital precision bat detector) Mk5 v1.0” she had seen a “single bat flying between the trees that border our boundary with Northcliff Lodge and down to the second block of Dyfed”.[ A section of the 1970s vintage apartment development at the cliff top] . Ms Perry said “The bat flew straight back and forth and was not swooping but just flying straight”. She said the  bat detector was on and it “recorded a single bat with pitch of 45.2 Khz.  This was not a fleeting glance but a sighting that lasted for at least 45 seconds if not more.” Ms Perry asked the police to look into this and said she would be prepared to stand in court to affirm her evidence.

What is described as “soft felling” has been taking place on the Nothcliffe Lodge site

On December 22nd 2017  it is alleged by Dr Max Wallis that a Vale of Glamorgan Council enforcement officer “disregarded” the information given to the police. Dr Wallis claims that the enforcement officer  “decided not to take enforcement action despite observing ‘hard felling’ from the ground that breaches the “soft felling” in Condition 13 of the development consent. ” 

….However a few days later this stance appeared to have changed

On December 29th 2017 The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department issued an Enforcement Investigation Notice on the developers of Northcliff Lodge with regard to “Condition 13 ” of the planning permission in relation to bats living in the area.

Debbie Marles head of legal services in the Vale Council

At 10:24 on January 2 2018 (yesterday) on behalf of Barry and Vale Friends of the Earth, Dr Wallis emailed Debbie Marles, the head of legal services at the Vale of Glamorgan Council – giving her the background to the issue and reminding her that it is the responsibility of the council to  “require a stop to the disturbance of bats and probable destruction of bat roosts, pending a possible licence from NRW ” [ the Welsh Government Environmental regulator].

At 18:00 on January 2 2018 Cllr Neil Thomas wrote an email to the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning chairman Cllr Ben Gray saying “It seems clear that serious offences under the wildlife protection legislation are being committed and that the Vale as responsible authority are duty bound to act with all urgency to prevent further breaches of the law. I would expect officers to take immediate action to prevent further hard felling and wood chipping of possibly inhabited branches etc. And to take steps to prosecute the developers who are choosing to ignore their responsibilities.”

Planning Committee chairman Ben Gray (Conservative Plymouth Ward) “

At 18:31  on January 2 2018  the local resident who had sighted a bat – Emma Perry – also emailed Vale planning chairman Cllr Ben Gray urging that an immediate stop be placed on the Northcliff Lodge development work. She said that “The developers were at work between Christmas and New Year”

At 19:11 on January 2 2018 Cllr Ben Gray – chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee –  replied to Ms Perry’s email saying he had already forwarded Cllr Thomas’s email on to the planning department  for their consideration.

It remains to be seen whether any work will be carried out on the site today January 3rd 2018

 

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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47 Responses to BAT-SIGHTING PUTS PRESSURE ON VALE COUNCIL TO HALT NORTHCLIFF LODGE DEVELOPMENT

  1. Luca says:

    Seems very odd, considering that bats generally start hibernating in November. When were these “sightings?”

    • NewsNet says:

      The sighting was reported on December 20th 2017 and there were subsequent sightings on Dec 21 and Dec 22 – all by the same person – using a bat detector.

    • Lesley Monger says:

      We are still seeing the bats in our garden
      Must be the mild weather as we still have hydrangeas in flower
      The seasons are all mixed up
      Protect the bats I say!

    • The Tax payer says:

      Just wish I could have had this much of a response from the police when my house was broken into. Maybe next time I should say I have Bats in the house or in the shed and they may attend and do something ??

  2. Guido says:

    It maybe the case that the more immediate powers lie with the police. For the Council to take action in the form of a legal notice, it must have firm evidence that a breach of planning control has occured and to be able to sustain that evidence/notice under potential legal challenge. I suggest that this could be a major stalling point in the Council taking any immediate action.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      To knowingly proceed when aware of potential illegality and danger to Wildlife has risks as in this case below Got an attitude problem that’s FINE mate !.

      “A man has been fined £112,197 for illegally felling 200 ancient beech trees without a licence.Keith Smith, 62, of Blackwood, Caerphilly county, admitted cutting down the trees with his two sons in January this year.Newport Magistrates’ Court heard he was a former tenant at a farm in Manmoel where the trees were destroyed.”
      He failed to appear in court and was sentenced in his absence.
      BBC Wales Sept 17

      • Guido says:

        As I understand the situation, felling without a licence is a matter for the Forestry Commission to administer and prosecute. Licences are required where the cubic metreage of timber to be felled exceeds a stated figure. If the trees were legally protected, then the local authority also has powers.

    • Chris David says:

      Indeed Jack Wilson.

  3. Chris David says:

    Perhaps they were disturbed from their roost Luca! Not hard to work out ay! That may also explain the flying behaviour as bats disturbed this time of year may be fleeing not hunting! The workers were also reported as active there over the period described. Funny- David Clements cant find bats when we all know they are there- Goldsworthy takes the developers word on bats instead of insisting on a VoG independent report, but you doubt the word of an ordinary member of the public. Someone who probably has nothing to gain financially or otherwise but acts out a of sense of concern!

    • Luca says:

      I don’t doubt that she saw something. But from the flight patterns described, it doesn’t sound like it was a bat. And at this time of year, it seems a bit far-fetched. I accord with the concern over the habitat and do not suggest that the law be disregarded. And indeed, maybe the Local Authority could do more. But since this publication appears to attract the ranters and the bigots and the ill-informed, it was an observation worth making.

      • Not Another One says:

        “But since this publication appears to attract the ranters and the bigots and the ill-informed…”
        Into which category do you fall, Luca?
        Should we add “…and superior know-alls…”?

      • Luca says:

        Yes that’d be fine thanks, NAO.

    • Terry Eldridge says:

      Stand by for the full force of a David tirade, Luca. Home truths don’t go down too well.

      • Chris David says:

        On the contrary- its cathartic to see such irony on display 🙂 x However getting back to the point I’m not sure using a “Magenta Bat 5 Digital precision bat detector) Mk5 v1.0” registers anything aside of bats!

      • Luca says:

        Son, we live in a world that has bats, and those bats have to be guarded by men with bat detectors. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Chris David? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the Bats and you curse the Planners. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know; that the bats’ death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that site. You need me on that site. We use words like environment, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a bat who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bat detector and stand at post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

      • Chris David says:

        Bats question you Luca? Wow. What a soliloquy…… smoking….Hamlet! 🙂

      • Not Another One says:

        Less Hamlet, more One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
        Give it a rest will you, Luca.

      • Luca says:

        Oooh! Censorship? lol

      • Tim Hughes says:

        A few good bats Luca?

  4. Mark Foster says:

    We had the Balcony Scene from Romeo and Juliet a couple of weeks ago in the Marina, and now we’re going to have Die FlederMaus, the Bat or the Revenge of the Bat in Bat Costumes at the Saint Adresse (sic) Northcliff Lodge Apartments. What a demo that would be! Penarth reminds me of Balbec in “À la recherche du temps perdu”. Qu’en pensez-vous, Christophe Davide?

    Anything we Aussies can do to raise the cultural level of youse poor Poms

    • Chris David says:

      Dunno luv- I’m not Dr Who. However One does wonder about the connections you mention. Anyway- in the end the anonymous Ford Prefects of the world will get their way and everything will be concreted over in cretin consistent 3/1 mix.

  5. fioza23 says:

    I hope something can be done before it’s too late…
    It is very disturbing to live here at 34 weeks pregnant and seeing all beautiful trees & habitat being destroyed
    As I mentioned before my husband and I have seen the bats
    Until they were driven away
    The developers will try to hide any evidence there is ,or was
    They have cut so many trees down already such a greedy council
    And they are at it again this morning 😦

    • The Tax payer says:

      If this is stressful for you at 34 weeks just wait until the baby arrives 👍😍 But good luck and hope all goes well for you 😎

  6. Ford Prefect says:

    There are bats all over the place in Penarth. How can people pin point them to specific trees with such accuracy? What’s to stop the developers building artifical bat roosts in the grounds of the new flats? It may improve the bat’s chances. People seem so opposed to this new development, but they need to remember that their own houses were built on once-rural land, with trees removed for bricks and mortar. Perhaps they would volunteer to bulldoze their own plot and plant it with trees to help the situation out?

    • Not Another One says:

      Are you suggesting we just keep on building and building until there are no trees left?
      Surely the measure of a civilised society is not only knowing when to stop but protecting what cannot protect itself.
      Me me, me and yet you’re pointing a finger saying you you you.
      Ignorant comment masquerading as the pursuit of fairness.

  7. BluesMan says:

    Seems like the Vale are dragging there heels until its too late then they wont have anything to do!

  8. Mark Foster says:

    The head of the property development company would appear to be Jonathan David Shields of Cyncoed and he would presumably be known to Marcus Goldworthy as would no doubt the owners of the Jehu Group who are building the apartments at Cogan station.

    • Lesley Monger says:

      It’s all about money at the end of the day!
      They don’t give a rat’s arse about the bats or any birds nests etc

    • Luca says:

      Despite the complete non-sequitur, it is worth noting that Jehu aren’t building the flats at Cogan Station. The site has been sold to the WAG.

      • Mark Foster says:

        Okay, apologies. Can u or the WAG tell us who owns the company that is going to develop the flats at Cogan?

      • Luca says:

        Nobody is going to develop the flats at Cogan. The Welsh Assembly Government wants to build their “transport hub” there. Should look lovely.

  9. Peter Church says:

    Fine the developer and stop this work!

  10. Andrew Worsley says:

    The Council built a viewing platform no one wanted or asked for on Penarth head , so in short they do what they want or like and face the consequences later . Forget the name of Garden by the sea before too long it will be desert by the sea.

  11. AK says:

    I’m sure the bats are very smart and will seek out new homes.

    Meantime whoever is wasting the time of our hard pressed police on this ‘crime’ should hang their head in shame.

  12. Dave says:

    Quite clear by the comments on here that no one is happy with this. The way the development has been rejected and then resubmitted and criteria for 106 and parking fiddled with and now the bats, stinks. Like I have said before if the site is that tricky to build on don’t do it, leave the habitat alone. Maybe underpinning works will cost more than they think, lets hope if they do, mugs are willing to pay more to cover the devs profit margin.

    • Bill Reed says:

      No one is happy with it? You mean that no one on here is happy with it. But no one on here is happy with anything. As someone else said, it attracts the ranters, the bigots and the ill informed.

      • Dave says:

        Agreed but posters tend to only state things that anger them rather than voicing strong approval. 33 posts is not everyone in the locale but clearly a few positive votes wouldn’t go amiss to balance things out. Clearly there are some great views to be had around the Vale and some great designs that can be implemented to take advantage of such panorama. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this site will always be controversial.

    • Chris David says:

      Spot on to both posts Mr Dave.

    • Ford Prefect says:

      Yes I think you’re in danger of taking the 20-30 views on PDN as a poll of the whole of Penarth. Even in this small angry mob, there are people who don’t mind it. I personally would prefer if we left the natural environment as natural as possible, but I am aware of the need for more housing, and I’d rather they were built in existing urban areas with good transport links and amenities, than digging up the countryside like they are doing on Llantrisant Road at the minute.

  13. Chris David says:

    Oh the irony B Reed 🙂 geddit. Are you and AK investors? Well done whom ever reported this.

    • Bill Reed says:

      Mr David, I have no idea whether you fit into any or all of the categories mentioned and I don’t particularly care. You apparently perceive some irony in what I said. However, I perceive unwarranted cynicism in your suggestion that I may be an “investor”. I am not, in this or any other development and I have no idea who “AK” is. I am aware of your reputation as a bellicose objector to most things and I have no wish to enter into any further discussion.

      • Chris David says:

        Thanks Mr Reed. Then you obviously don’t read some of the more important topics here! Nor much of this one. What have you posted constructively? I love a jape but I’m relived to hear you’re off 🙂 Ps- you can look up irony online these days.

    • Gomer Davies says:

      Be nice if you could…..be……off as well.

  14. Max Wallis says:

    The Police wild-life crime officer’s position is:
    “Currently there is no direct evidence that an offence has been committed against European Protected Species in this case Bats, circumstantial evidence is insufficient…
    However, without a licence to mitigate offences the developers ecologist must be satisfied that everything possible has been done to protect such species and their related habitat”.
    This re-states the UK interpretation of “recklessly” cause harm to bats or their roosts.
    Hard felling is reckless, so “soft felling” involving lowering branches to the ground and felling in sections, allowed to lie so that creatures could re-locate was introduced. As distinct by the police officer, the Vale’s enforcement officer is uninformed and argues over what particular words could mean in order not to enforce the soft felling requirement.

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