Jan 242014

We would like to share with you all a letter we have received which we found very entertaining and thought provoking .  Please feel free to contact us with your thoughts and comments…

Today’s Midweek Herald (22nd January 2014) prints a lead story which could surely come only from rural England:

A company called Lyme Bay Leisure has applied for permission to redevelop a derelict site at Seaton Heights. They started planning consultations in June 2013. As part of this process they employed Acorn Ecology to report on any issues relating to local habitat and wildlife. Acorn’s chief concern was that there were bats roosting in the derelict hotel building on the site. Lyme Bay Leisure incorporated “…appropriate bat mitigation measures involving an expensive new building solely for the accommodation of the existing bats.”. (I’m not sure how one mitigates a bat, but clearly the developers’ hearts are in the right place.)

This would appear to have met all the relevant requirements and so thought all the relevant parties including “… all the local bat activists and other nature conservationists.”. (Perhaps someone has invented a bat activist detector box; it is difficult to see how anyone could otherwise be sure of netting all of them.)

In November 2013 Natural England suddenly awoke from a long period of hibernation and raised an objection. “Why”, they asked, “has no-one considered bat flight paths?”. Why indeed! Why, for the matter of that, have the developers not hired other consultants to examine the routes taken by starlings, swallows, herring gulls and a host of other winged creatures? And what about those animals so deprived that they are unable to “shake off the surly bonds of Earth”? Has no-one addressed the needs of transient badgers (if not already culled), foxes and roe deer, not to mention pygmy shrews, natterjack toads and crested newts? And beneath the ground, how are migrating earthworms going to fare when their traditional route is blocked by the foundations of the newly built bat hotel?

Clearly the environmental issues have not been thought through. No doubt the developers are already hatching plans for a properly signposted overhead bat tunnel. Now they have also to think about provision for a further (estimated) five hundred and eighty nine species of wild creature which have been recorded in the county at least once in the past five hundred years. If any significant number of by-passes, overpasses, underpasses, canals, ski lifts and other diversionary structures are found necessary it will be only a matter of time before it is noticed, for example, that one of the overground tubes would block the route of one of the others. The topological problems thus raised might well prove to be non-deterministic polynomial-time complete and so incapable of any simple solution.

Give up, Lyme Bay Leisure! It was a good try but the forces of unreason are against you. Perhaps Tesco can put another store on the site instead; they don’t seem to have much trouble with the planners, and if they do they can always promise to “make provision” for another two hundred and fifty affordable homes. What if they fail to meet the promise? “Well, we couldn’t really order them to demolish their nice new shop, could we!”

Afterthought: Has Natural England not tumbled to the simple facts that bats can navigate perfectly well in pitch darkness, and are amongst the most agile fliers in Creation?

Charles, A Local Resident

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