Butterflies force homes scheme change

Bicester Advertiser: A Brown Hairstreak A Brown Hairstreak

A DEVELOPER has been forced to axe up to 200 homes from a scheme because of rare butterflies.

Gallagher has put forward proposals to build about 300 homes, a school, community facilities, public open space and land has been set aside land for wildlife at Gavray Drive, Bicester.

It comes more than a year after a wildlife expert Dominic Woodfield won a High Court battle to overturn planning approval for 500 homes.

Campaign group Save Gavray Meadows welcomes the proposals, but say more land needs to be included in the wildlife plan.

It says Gallagher should designate the same slice of land that Cherwell District Council has included in its target conservation map.

In a report Gallagher said: “Gallagher Estates have taken the opportunity to review the previously permitted scheme and have concluded that a new outline planning application should be submitted for the site.

“This will be entirely separate from the previous consents and quashed decision.”

No one from Gallagher Estates was available for comment.

UNDER THREAT

  • Butterflies spotted at the Gavray Drive site include all of the five Hairstreak and the rare Marsh Fritillary.
  • According to Butterfly Conservation, the Marsh Fritillary is under threat in the UK and Europe and a lot of conservation work has taken place to try and improve numbers.
  • Its main habitats are damp and chalk grasslands, and sometimes colonies exist in woodland clearings and other grasslands.
  • Three of five in the Hairstreak family of butterflies are also considered a “high” conservation priority.
  • They are the Black Hairstreak, the Brown Hairstreak and the White-letter Hairstreak. All three breed in dense mature Blackthorn, sheltered hedgerow, scrub and woodland edge.

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