The council did not submit a biodiversity masterplan as part of their planning application as would have been good practice, and the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) concluded that impact on biodiversity had not been fully taken into account and integrated into the plans. GMEU therefore requested that a Biodiversity Masterplan should be submitted as a condition of planning approval, prior to commencement of development.
At the time that the council were planning to commence works, on 10th Dec, the Biodiversity Masterplan had still not been submitted to the planning dept. We alerted the planning dept to this, and they contacted the council to remind them of this requirement.
The Alexandra Park Restoration – Biodiversity Masterplan_Draft 2 has now been submitted, with the approval of GMEU.
An ecologist we showed it to said “the document is very thorough and it would appear that URS (the consultant ecologists who produced the Masterplan) have been instructed to go to town on this”.
So our highlighting of biodiversity issues has been successful in ensuring better outcomes for wildlife in Alexandra Park than would have been the case otherwise.
Protecting hibernating hedgehogs from destruction of habitat
The only thing missing from the Masterplan, is how they are going to protect hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are a partially protected species and on the GM list of biodiversity action plan species.
We know hedgehogs are in the park from WR4wildlife surveys, and that they are in exactly those areas where tree felling and vegetation clearance will be taking place in January and February this year when hedgehogs are still hibernating.
This is obviously of great concern, and is something we will be chasing up.
UPDATE: The British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommend that a hedgehog specialist is on site when works are about to happen to check for hedgehogs and give advice about rehousing. We’ve spoken to MCC ecology consultants URS who produced the Masterplan about their omission of care for hedgehogs, and passed on the details of the registered hedgehog carer for Manchester. We should now expect actions regarding care for hedgehogs to be inserted into Masterplan.
Tree felling along Sycamore Ave
The Biodiversity Masterplan also doesn’t address the concerns we have raised about the tree felling plans per se, especially the trees along Sycamore Ave next to Claremont Rd.
The high numbers of people who have signed the e-petition indicate that this aspect of the restoration plan is not generally supported, and that the council did not properly consult people specifically about tree felling.