Ecological mitigation delay unacceptable

A loss of a priority habitat in Oxfordshire was unduly harmful despite an appellant agreeing to offset the harm by planting additional woodland.

The site was covered by a TPO. The appellant planned to erect five dwellings which would necessitate the loss of 173 trees equating to approximately 35 per cent of the total. The removal of 0.46ha of mixed-deciduous woodland would be offset by planting two hectares of trees. But the newly created habitat would take 25 years to establish to a good condition. The inspector decided that this amounted to an excessive amount of time to justify the loss of protected trees and habitat. Moreover, the off-site mitigation would occur two miles from the site which limited benefits to the immediate area.

In deciding that this harm was unacceptable, the inspector had regard to the fact that the appeal site was located within a strategic development area which included the delivery of 1,000 new homes. Development was aimed at ensuring that development took place in accordance with a masterplan which had yet to be agreed and which was designed to ensure that biodiversity and greenspace were enhanced. It could not be assumed that the plan would support the loss of protected trees and a locally important biodiverse site.

Inspector: R Jones; Written representations


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