Press Release


03 Feb 2022

Kirdford Parish Council calls in Police to investigate reckless habitat destruction

West Sussex, 03 Feb 2022 - Kirdford Parish Council has today, in partnership with our contractor The Ecology Co-op, submitted evidence of reckless habitat destruction to West Sussex Police.

The site to the south of the village known as Townfield Meadows, was indiscriminately and aggressively cleared in early 2020 a month before ecologists were commissioned by a developer to carry out a Habitat Assessment to feed into its application for 70 houses on the site (KD/21/00466/OUT).

Kirdford Parish Council commissioned its own independent review to establish how this process was managed and to verify the calculations in the developer’s report. The shocking conclusion of which has led to the evidence being submitted to Sussex Police.

A spokesperson for Kirdford Parish Council said; “Kirdford Parish is proud of its rich biodiversity. With a third of the Parish within the South Downs National Park, we are careful to ensure that all land owners, developers and Competent Authorities observe the law. Wilful eradication of wildlife and protected species is potentially a crime and should be investigated by the Police against the appropriate legislation.”

Chichester District Council’s Environment Coordinator acknowledged in her Ecology comments on the application, that it was “… unfortunate that vegetation was cleared from the site before the <Extensive habitat and protected species surveys> were undertaken.” But no attempt appears to have been taken to investigate the possibility of a criminal act having been committed.

Mr Paul Whitby from The Ecology Co-op who conducted the independent review said; “The law protects some of our species from reckless or intentional harm, including the destruction of their habitat or place of shelter. This large scale habitat destruction was carried out before a legally required ecological assessment was conducted. The destruction of such a rich habitat is contrary to both the requirements of the planning system in assessing environmental impacts, and protected species legislation. The clearance of the site immediately prior to consulting an ecologistresulted in the reckless destruction of hazel dormouse habitat and will certainly have resulted in the killing or injury of reptiles, which had already been identified at the site in 2009.”