A RARE species of bird which sank plans for an incinerator near Rainworth could also play a key role in proposals for Mansfield’s biggest-ever development.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust says nightjar in Harlow Wood will be at risk from people and wandering pet cats if the £250m Lindhurst scheme goes ahead.
The trust is listed as objecting to the plan in a council report published on Friday, ahead of Tuesday’s crucial planning committee meeting.
The presence of the ground-nesting birds influenced a Government ruling in June which scuppered the planned incinerator.
Council officers conclude Lindhurst is different to the Rainworth scheme and developers have a plan in place to lessen impact on the birds.
But they warn the presence of the birds could eventually lead to permission for the huge homes and business development being revised or withdrawn if it is granted next week.
Problems could arise if the area is later declared a Special Protection Area (SPA) under EU law, the report warns.
“It would prevent the residential development on much of the land to the south of the MARR route and any permission in place (which was not already built out) may need to be modified or revoked,” it says.
The authority has sought guarantees from the developers they will not claim compensation if planning permission for Lindhurst does have to be revoked after initially being passed.
A small number of nightjar have been found in the wood near, but not in, the planned 1,700-home site between Rainworth and the A60.
They are nocturnal birds which are on the RSPB’s ‘red list’ of threatened bird populations.
Said Janice Bradley, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s head of conservation: “It’s a bird species protected under the highest levels of national and European law because of its scarcity.
“They are known to regularly breed within 400m of the proposed development and could become extinct in that breeding site as a result of it.”
However, Natural England is not objecting after the Lindhurst Group ironed out wood protection plans including a fence and water barrier.
Added Lindhurst Project co-ordinator Richard Bowden: “We would not make such an agreement (with the council on compensation) if we or our advisers thought there was a serious chance of an SPA happening.”
The Lindhurst Group says the scheme should be passed as it will also provide up to 4,000 jobs at business premises and act as a springboard for regeneration.
Recommending the committee approves the plans, the council report also says it ‘would promote the growth of the Mansfield district’.
However, it also says the secretary of state could decide to ‘call in’ the huge application and have it decided by a public enquiry if it is passed.
It adds 143 letters and emails containing objections to or observations on the proposal have been sent in, while 32 letters and emails of support have also been submitted.
Objections also included concern over increased traffic and loss of agricultural land.
Supporters wrote to say the project will encourage investment in the area, create jobs and meet housing needs.