Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Mid Suffolk: District council facing legal bills as Suffolk Wildlife Trust cut planning advice

09:00 16 January 2013

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

Archant

A COUNCIL could lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs over its planning decisions, a councillor has claimed.

shares

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is due to cut back on the level of advice it gives to planning authorities throughout the county.

In a Mid Suffolk District Council executive meeting on Monday councillors discussed the problem and how it would affect their planning department.

Opposition leader Andrew Stringer said: “We have a duty to protect wildlife and protect species and we want it remaining a strong priority for this authority.

“If we do not get the advice right to protect applicants and protect species then we are open to legal challenges.”

He said the council should look at employing a freelance ecologist to provide advice.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust contacted the council last November to tell them about the changes, which would see it provide advice only in what the council calls ‘limited circumstances’.

The council has said it would be open to potential legal action and subsequent ‘financial consequences’ and complaints if appropriate ecology advice is not part of its planning decisions.

Derrick Haley, leader at Mid Suffolk said: “We need to find someone to do it, which is why I wanted to ask the question in the meeting, but that is the first time we have seen it brought before the executive.

“It’s not a big risk but we have to cover it and identify someone to take it onboard.”

James Meyer, conservation planner for Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: “Our letter to local planning authorities was to clarify our role as a consultee in the planning process and ensure that our work focuses on applications where our expertise can have the greatest benefits in protecting and enhancing biodiversity.

“We are not withdrawing from being involved in planning applications; rather, we are trying to ensure that our and the council’s time and resources are being used in the most efficient and beneficial way.

“We have explained to the planning authorities what types of applications we wish to be consulted on and also where else they can obtain ecological information.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk said: “The council is exploring alternative sources of ecological advice for those lesser applications upon which Suffolk Wildlife Trust is unlikely to respond to in future.

“In each case the council will consider what information is available within all the application documentation, including that provided by applicants with their applications as well as Natural England and others, in order to safeguard its statutory duties.

“In the circumstances risk will be considered on a case by case basis.” The changes to planning advice will come into effect by the end of the month.

shares

0 comments

Police are searching for 15-year-old Niamh McGovern, who has gone missing from Braintree (pictured)

Police say they are concerned for the welfare of a 15-year-old girl who has gone missing from Braintree.

Visitors got to take part in the Big Garden Bird Watch at the Flatford RSPB over the weekend.
Amy and Julia Hill.

Our photographers travel across Suffolk and north Essex, recording the events of the week.

Police close road (file picture)

Saddlemakers Lane in Melton is currently closed while BT repair fallen telephone lines.

Maj Bruce Ekman, 36, of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, who suffered serious injuries when his vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, is taking part in the Invictus Games process for a second time. Photo: Cpl James McAllister

A soldier whose left foot was shattered by an explosive in Afghanistan is in the running for a place on the UK team at the next Invictus Games.

Mouth cancer survivor Sam Fordham with husband Neil and five-year-old daughter Molly

A woman who beat mouth cancer has said it is vital people who think they have symptoms of any form of the disease gets them checked out early.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train

There are delays of up to 20 minutes for rail users travelling between Ipswich and Cambridge due to a signalling fault.

Pupils at Farlingaye High, Woodbridge, prepare their presentations as part of the Most Able Student Day at the school.

Gifted pupils gathered for the latest in a series of events aimed at helping them realise their early academic promise.

Most read

Fred Olsen Travel Sale

cover

Click here to view
the Fred Olsen
Travel Sale

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24