Today we met with Manchester City Council to express our concerns about the Alexandra Park restoration plan. Present at this meeting (which was invitation only at request of Manchester City Council) were:
Rionne Avis, Nadine Andrews, Jenny Trigg – local residents
Richard Sharland, Manchester City Council
Eamonn O’Rourke, Manchester City Council
Eddie Flanagan, Manchester City Council
Eunice Long, Manchester City Council
Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NW
Ten members of our group collaborated to compile a presentation detailing the issues, which you can view below.
MCC confirmed they would review the issues raised and respond back to us early in the new year. MCC would not commit to timescales but it seems habitat clearance and tree felling are unlikely to start before 2nd week in January.
Did you know? Click the links to read the evidence for yourself!
– Alex park includes Biodiversity Action Plan habitats supporting protected and priority species, in areas subject to tree felling and vegetation clearance. Yet MCC application for planning permission (Q13 MCC planning application) says there are no protected or priority species no site likely to be affected – despite an ecology report MCC commissioned that confirmed their presence Ecological Appraisal Report Alex Park.
– MCC has a legal duty to conserve biodiversity (restore or enhance a population of habitat) under the NERC Act 2006. Yet under current plans, biodiversity will be reduced as habitat loss due to tree felling and vegetation clearance is only being partially compensated for.
– Current published numbers of proposed tree fellings are significantly understated due to misclassification of trees. A consultant’s report Tree Hazard evaluation Dec2010 highlights this and other failings of MCC’s tree survey upon which the renovation plans are based, concluding “this has led to doubt over the accuracy of the survey” and recommending trees are surveyed again from scratch. We have found no evidence that a proper tree survey has yet been undertaken.
– MCC are required as a condition of Planning to submit a Biodiversity Master Plan in consultation with GM Ecology Unit prior to commencement of development. “Such a plan should include any necessary updated surveys (e.g. bats), full details of all mitigation and compensation measures, a timetable of works, amended planting schedules and long term management of the site, including measures to enhance biodiversity. This plan should then be implemented as agreed.” Planning approval This condition was included at the request of GM Ecology Unit because they found that impact on biodiversity did not appear to be fully taken into account and integrated into the submitted proposals. We will read this Biodiversity Master Plan with great interest!
Beware of the leopard
To parody our experience of trying to access detailed information about MCC’s plans for the park, we included in the presentation the famous audio clip from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where Arther Dent confronts the bureaucrat who has come to demolish his house. We anticipated MCC would respond like the bureaucrat did, and we were not disappointed in that regard. It would’ve been funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
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