A housing developer has defended its plans for a controversial housing development on land bordering the A617 Marr Route.
A group of residents near the 169-hectare site are challenging the proposal on the basis that Mansfield District Council’s decision to grant planning permission had been illegal.
Central to their objections is the plight of rare bird species the Nightjar and the Woodlark, both known to inhabit Harlow Wood, which borders the site.
Lead campaigner Shlomo Dowen has claimed Mansfield District Council had failed to follow a risk-based approach advised by Natural England when considering the development.
This approach requires planners to act as though a Special Protection Area status were in place when a development borders a wildlife habitat and assume increased risk from pets such as cats and dogs, for example.
A spokesman for the Lindhurst Group denied this. She said: “Sherwood Forest is not a designated potential Special Protection Area (pSPA). A possible future pSPA has no legal or planning policy status.
“Harlow Wood is not included in Natural England’s proposed Core Area of interest for Nightjar and Woodlark.
“The Lindhurst Group’s ecological team has been undertaking detailed breeding surveys of Nightjars and Woodlarks in Harlow Wood and the surrounding areas for several years and these confirm that there is a very small breeding population of nightjar using four clear-felled compartments within the wood.
“None are close to the built components of the Lindhurst site, and substantial areas of retained mature woodland remain between the clear-felled compartments and the approved built development areas.”
The spokesman said a package of measures had been agreed, including a robust fence, together with a new planted buffer zone all along the northern perimeter next to the Lindhurst development area.
She concluded: “As a result, Natural England does not object to the Lindhurst proposals.
“It could have done so had there been any material ecological concerns or policy conflicts.
“Natural England will continue to be invited to comment on the development as construction progresses, and have visited the site in the last few months with the design team.”