A local campaigner has launched a petition in a final attempt to prevent the construction of a cycle track on The Sanctuary wildlife reserve in Derby.
Sandra Heard, a campaigner against the construction of the cycle track, has set up the petition in an attempt to dissuade the National Lottery from providing funding for the cycle track which will contribute to the destruction of the wildlife reserve.
The petition, which at the time of writing had 510 signatures, is to be sent to the head of corporate responsibility at Camelot, which operates the National Lottery.
Ms Heard spoke to the Derby Telegraph highlighting her incredulity that the council would destroy something they built only ten years ago.
She said: “It’s crazy to have used a lot of public funds to create and manage the reserve and then to say the birds don’t pay very much, now we will use some public money to destroy it.”
The decision to go ahead with the plans for the cycle track came in the face of objection from a large group of ecological campaigners who attended the council meeting on the matter last week.
The council’s argument for the extended Pride Park development, which is to include the now imminent cycle track, is that it will put Derby on the cycling map. They have said that they will provide compensatory land for wildlife at Alvaston Scrubs, three times the size of that lost at the Sanctuary. That plan, however, has not been accepted as viable or appropriate by campaigners.
Following the meeting, which ended unsuccessfully for The Sanctuary local nature reserve, a statement was released via the campaign group’s Facebook page.
Posted on the Hands Off The Sanctuary Bird Reserve at Pride Park, Derby Facebook page, the statement initially calls out the council’s inappropriate offer of wildlife land compensation.
The statement reads: “We pointed out clearly that to offer another 6.6 hectare Local Wildlife Site (Alvaston Scrub) as compensation land went against National Planning Policy and was inappropriate, as it only exported the damage from one high value wildlife site to another, with no net gain. (In fact a 6 hectare biodiversity loss.)”
The statement later questions the ability of the council to make valued judgments as well as clarifying that their battle is not against cyclists, but against the council.
“So it is now with great disappointment that a bird reserve, opened by a Labour MP, is now being trashed just ten years later by a Labour local authority. Today (Saturday) contractors were on site, clearing vegetation.
“Remember, this was a fight against Derby Council, not against cyclists in general, the majority of whom were intelligent enough to have fully understood the issues and priorities here.
“But the fight to save our wildlife goes on.”
Ms Heard’s petition went live after that statement had been released, and in the petition's description, she describes the extent of the damage that the cycle track will cause.
The petition description reads: “The floodlit cycle training and race circuit plus mountain bike area will destroy 20% of the habitat and adversely impact 40% more of the site, which is owned by Derby City Council. The site has an impressive bird list of over 90 species, 56 having Conservation status. It is the only reserve in the city to have shy, ground nesting birds such as skylark, little ringed plover, and lapwing.
“If a cycle race circuit here rides rough-shod over our Reserve it will signal to funding bodies and local councils that Local Nature Reserves are a soft target anywhere else.
“We welcome a race circuit in Derby, but not on this small Reserve. There is suitable, council owned land available just two miles away."
Despite the large opposition, even with the support of high profile names like Chris Packham, the local authority has confirmed that work has begun on clearing the construction site.
A statement from Derby council said: “A number of conditions were attached to the planning approval and, once we have assessed these, a construction plan will be finalised.
“An application for funding has been made to British Cycling.
“The final outcome of this is awaited now that they are aware that the planning application has been approved.”
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