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Post Info TOPIC: Diggle Lapwings under threat


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RE: Diggle Lapwings under threat


Glad to see that someone is taking up the monitoring in Diggle!

Just an update on the lapwings & planning & the difficulties I've had talking to the people that respond to planning applications at GMEU (this doesn't include Steve Atkins who was very helpful)  & OMBC planning department.  GMEU have the data on lapwing from 2013 from a number of birders who use this site.  However this was included as a comment from a GMEU Ecologist in the planning officer report last week:

"The area as a whole has District value for breeding lapwing. No breeding lapwing appears to have been recorded on the site since 2010/2011 and the local population would appear to have declined recently. Alternative suitable breeding habitat is available for lapwing on nearby fields [comment from Derek Richardson GMEU, late 2015]

Firstly its a shame that I wrote to OMBC & GMEU last year, firstly to point out the incorrect statment on when L were last breeding (last breeding 2013) & secondly to point out the fact that the surrounding habitat is much less suitable & lapwings cannot just 'go to surrounding fields' without specific management in place!  In addition, even where surrounding habitat is suitable it does not negate the need to carry out mitigation.   This is prime river floodplain habitat being lost & the implication that lapwing can 'go elsewhere' is not a valid approach to mitigation.

Having myself been involved in scientific research focusing on lawping with the RSPB (including a radio-tracking study looking at chick survival & monitoring of farmland populations thoroughout the Peak District NP prior to that) I am familiar with the needs and problems this rapidly declining Priority Species faces.  So comments like the above are most unhelpful - the quote was used by the local authority as a reason not to carry out any mitigation for lapwing.no

 

 

 



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Hi James

will send you a Private Message

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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I was contacted by Andrew Stanbury from the RSPB about this survey and have taken that square near Diggle! Luckily its the nearest one to my house.
The only thing I'm wondering is getting permission to access land if needed, I don't know how to go about it.

I used to go up there when I was at Saddleworth School, so remember a few public footpaths but haven't been up there much recently.

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There's a new BTO survey - Breeding Waders of English Upland Farmland - taking place this year and there's just one survey square in this area which remains unallocated - it includes the site of the proposed new school in Diggle.

Although Diggle is in Greater Manchester, this square is in the BTO Yorkshire Bradford region. You can find the details via the following link:

http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/breeding-waders-english-upland-farmland?dm_i=IG4,45KJ3,39GSNT,F3T83,1

I'm signed up to do another square in Yorkshire but am willing to share my flat cap and whippet...

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Just an update. OMBC DID approve permission but received a legal letter prior to the planning committee meeting warning that they were acting unlawfully in relation to heritage. They went ahead and approved plans anyway, but then decided to reverse the decision and take it all to planning committee again on 13th April.   

I submitted an objection of around 100 pages;  half of which dealt with ecology and presented detailed data for lapwings and bats.  This was ignored, and when I attended the planning meeting the planning officer actually (& unbelievably) said that the development would 'improve the ecology of the area'.  

GMEU had visited the breeding site for lapwings and proposed to put it forward as an Site of Biological Interest.  However, this was stopped in its tracks & it seems that GMEU are doing little to remind OMBC of their obligations regarding providing mitigation habitat for the lost breeding colony!

In my objection I made the following points:

In a comprehensive survey I carried out for the RSPB in 2007 the fields to be lost to development supported 9 pairs of breeding lapwing and they successfully reared 13 chicks to fledging.aww

The fact that lapwings are able to nest in high density and successfully rear so many chicks within the proposed development site, in contrast to the surrounding area, is most likely a result of habitat quality associated with grazed wet grassland (the field is part of the floodplain for Diggle brook).  After 2007 lapwings nested each year up to and including 2013.

In spring 2014, prior to the initial ecology surveys being carried out on behalf of the applicant, grazing management was stopped. The removal of grazing management resulted in the grass growing to a height that would prevent lapwings from nesting. The absence or lapwings now does not reflect the quality or potential of the habitat to support lapwings, nor does it represent a change in behaviour of the birds.  They were prevented from nesting because their habitat was degraded.

Any data from surveys carried out after the habitat was degraded should be discounted i.e. from 2014 onwards when grazing was removed during the peak of the lapwing nesting season. Instead, the baseline conditions should be taken as my data from 2007, which was a comprehensive monitoring survey. 

Oldham Council are effectively the applicant, being a party in the land swap deal with the current owner.  As such, the council is obligated to mitigate for this loss of prime habitat for breeding lapwing (which provides both high quality nesting and feeding habitat for adults and chicks). Therefore the council must fund and provide replacement habitat capable of supporting nine pairs of breeding lapwings. The council are obligated to carry out this mitigation!

AS THE WINDOW FOR OBJECTING IS STILL OPEN - I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in conserving this high quality breeding habitat -  to write a letter to the council objecting to this development on ecology grounds.

There are also serious issues regarding disturbance to important bat commuting routes (Diggle Brook and Huddersfield canal running parallel).

 

 



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With contractors doing their damndest to destroy all wildlife at the Foxdenton site (despite them not planning to build there just yet), Oldham Council are not scoring very highly on the conservation front these days.

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Oldham Council has approved planning permission for the new Saddleworth School at Diggle.

Another Lapwing breeding site bites the dust cry

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Hi Steve

That's great...good to know that there is more data in evidence for the long-term use of these fields by breeding lapwings! As far as I'm aware the council are required by law to mitigate for any loss of biodiversity on a like for like basis (under PPS9). How can they replace a colony of breeding lapwings (& possible skylark, maybe snipe as there is a bit of rush pasture in there)? In addition, the Lapwing is a UK BAP priority species & the council are required to have an action plan for protecting & enhancing the habitats within the borough for this species (& other UKBAP species). Do they have an action plan for lapwing? Does the Local Biodiversity Action Plan hold no weight whatsoever?? There are also potential bat roosts nearby and the river/stream has potential for other European protected species...so they should be doing surveys & environmental impact assessments. This development is inappropriate on so many levels! It seems to me that siting the school in Uppermill is a much more sensible and less costly alternative...much fewer ecological & environmental issues! There are quite a few people against this proposal...but not so many with knowledge on the ecological side of things, so it would be great if more people voiced their concerns on this issue:

http://savediggle.org.uk/what_you_can_do.html

Thanks

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Hi Kerry

It was me who recorded the Lapwing chicks for Bird Atlas. Steve Atkins and Margaret Rawlins had been in touch about the development proposals, so I checked back through my field notebooks and have been able to give Steve precise grid references - which are the fields in the proposal.

Good luck with the campaign. All the valley bottom Lapwing colonies that I used to monitor in Mossley are now under bricks and mortar and another site has been abandoned since they built our new local school cry

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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Hi Steve

Thank you for your reply. I will e-mail you with the relevant data & maps. I also intend to contact the RSPB to ask if they have any data from subsequent years. Also, I surveyed part of the proposed development area one winter as part of the BTO's 2007-11 Bird Atlas work. Someone else surveyed the same tetrad (SE00D) during the breeding season as the BTO have that data online (although only at the tetrad scale). Whoever did the survey recorded fledged lapwing chicks within the tetrad. Its likely that these would have been within the area of the proposed development. Hopefully more people will come forward with data.

Thanks

Kerry

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Hi Kerry,

A local bird recorder contacted me last week about this proposed development to express her concerns for the breeding Lapwings. I have checked the GM Bird Recording Group's (GMBRG) database and unfortunately there are very few records of breeding Lapwing from the area. It would appear that your/the RSPB's survey data from 2007 was never submitted to the GMBRG.

Whilst objections to the development would be welcome there is an established procedure for ensuring that the GM district planning departments (in this case Oldham) are made aware of the ecological impacts of proposed developments. We would kindly request that all bird records and survey results from Greater Manchester should be submitted to GMBRG to ensure that that the official county database is as comprehensive as possible. The data is supplied to the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) who are responsible for commenting on the ecological impacts of planning applications and assessing any ecological surveys carried out on behalf of the developers. GMEU will then advise the district planning department/developer if they consider further surveys are required. It is therefore of vital importance that all records/survey results are made available to GMBRG/GMEU otherwise the impacts will not be properly assessed.

There are a number of ways in which records can be submitted which are outlined on the Manchester Birding Website Submission of Bird Records However, to save time on this occasion you can email any data directly to me.

GMEU are also responsible for selecting Sites of Biological Importance across the 10 GM districts. So records submitted to GMBRG are also used to identify new sites as well as maintaining the selection of existing sites.

Finally, would anyone who has bird records for a site which is under threat please ensure these are submitted to GMBRG. Please do not sending records directly to the district planning department.

Steve

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The colony of breeding lapwings in Diggle is under threat from council proposals to move Saddleworth school directly on top of the fields in which they nest.

(see plans here: http://www.savediggle.org.uk/efa_proposal.html).

I first did a full survey of nesting Lapwings across Diggle, Castleshaw and Uppermill in 2007 as part of the RSPB's Peak District Lapwing and Wader Survey. The fields within the development proposal constituted the most important site within the survey boundary of 9 square kilometers, with 9 pairs nesting and a total of 13 chicks counted on the final visit . In subsequent years I didn't do any formal surveys but noted at least four nesting pairs, each year in the field earmarked as a football pitch! How ludicrous would it be to turn a good bit of wet grassland for breeding waders into a football pitch! Other fields in which the birds nest disappear under the new school buildings.

I am trying to get some information together to put in an objection on ecological grounds, should this proposal go ahead. Does anyone have any further data/photos of the lapwings that may help with this? Many residents of Saddleworth are already against this proposal on access & safety issues, traffic, flooding etc but not much is being said about the wildlife. As far as I'm aware, it hasn't even been considered, ecology reports have not been produced (although are required before any development proposal can go ahead). The more wildlife enthusiasts add their voice to this the better:

http://savediggle.org.uk/objections.html

Thanks

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