Below is an email from Nicky Court, Ecologist at HBIC, to Julia Mansi, Head of Planning at EHDC, which was sent on 29th January 2015. Note that this was prior to Outline Planning being approved!

Yet, the experts were ignored, no EIA was done, and Outline Planning was granted.

From: Court, Nicky
Sent: 29 January 2015 01:12
To: ‘Julia Mansi’
Subject: LMT application

Dear Julia

As you are aware the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre exists to provide impartial information, evaluation and interpretation as to the ecological value of habitats and species in Hampshire. I have been asked to review the WSP documentation concerning the assessment and evaluation of ecological features on the above site, in particular the non-SINC grasslands to the NW of the former hospital site which is covered by the current planning application. We originally expressed our concern to EHDC in July 2014 as to the inadequacy of the surveys being carried out for HCA on these grasslands and my view remains the same having ploughed through further documentation. We also asked that we carry out independent botanical surveys at that time to verify the WSP reports but were refused by the HCA.

Full NVC surveys were carried out by WSP for the SINC grasslands and sufficient information was provided to cover the potential impacts to protected species but the same level of detail was not applied to the non-SINC grasslands. These grasslands are now proposed for partial development. The walkover surveys carried out by WSP were inadequate and missed many of the more valuable species. WSP carried out an ‘approximation to NVC’ which is not the same as quadrats with full species lists and frequency values. Identification of UK Priority Habitat (S41 NERC Act) can only be done properly with full NVC assessment. I note WSP stated that some of this grassland (no map supplied of compartments) ‘shows affinities to MG5’. MG5 is the UK Priority Habitat ‘Lowland meadow’ but there is no way of knowing where this grassland is or how close it comes to conforming to MG5. Ditto whether it would meet SINC criteria. I also note WSP comments that they have ‘confidence there is no known evidence of wood barley (a very rare species) within the woodland SINC when clearly it is present.

To conclude I have strong concerns as to the inadequacy of the WSP botanical surveys of the non-SINC grassland but recognise my views may have come too late at this stage of the planning process.

Kind regards
Nicky

Nicky Court CEnv MCIEEM
Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre
The Castle, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8UD
T: 01962 832322

Director and Chair; Association of Local Environmental Records Centres (ALERC) www.alerc.org.uk
Sharing Information about Wildlife in Hampshire

HBIC are an organisation which supports the work of Hampshire County Council and “highlights the importance of a site for wildlife within the context of planning and land management in Hampshire“.

So why have EHDC seemingly gone out of their way to ignore the serious concerns of a prominent and professional Ecologist from Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC)?

Why would they do that?