New report on Matlock housing development site highlights biodiversity risk and rewilding alternative
A new report has been submitted to Derbyshire Dales District Council to highlight the threat to wildlife and biodiversity from a proposed Matlock housing development, and raises the possibility of rewilding it as a nature haven instead.
Residents with longstanding concerns about the plan for more than 400 homes on the Wolds, off Gritstone Road, commissioned consultants Holistic Restoration to assess the site’s current ecology and options for its future.
The authors write: “The Wolds site houses a rich array of species, some of which are nationally threatened, and with sympathetic management and restoration the site could become a real asset to local conservation efforts.
“The management needed to allow this to happen is the very same that would enhance the site's ability to absorb and store water protecting local residents from surface flooding now and into the future. Beyond flood protection the site could become a lifeline, not just for wildlife but for people.”
The report offers perhaps the first comprehensive species list for the site, including legally protected types of bat, migratory and nesting birds, badgers, and lizards.
Opponents of the development hope the report could help sway councillors final decision on the planning application, especially in light of emerging Government legislation to address escalating environmental crises.
Recent revisions to the Environment Bill suggest that in future developers may have to show their plans will produce net gains in biodiversity.
While Wolds developer William Davis Homes has outlined measures to support nature, not everyone is convinced they will offset the negative impact from years of construction and habitat loss.
Old Hackney Lane resident Professor Steve Martin, an expert in climate change and sustainability, welcomed the report’s findings.
He said: “All the earlier advice from the developer’s ecologist, along with the initial response from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust undervalues the current rich biodiversity of the site and its surrounding landscape, and its influence on flood risk.
“We would ask the local planning and flood authorities to seriously reconsider whether this site is fit for such a major development.”