Local campaigners opposed to the construction of thousands of new homes on countryside North of Bishopstoke say they are ‘delighted’ to have been given the support of a local butterfly conservation group. A spokesperson for Action Against Destructive Development told Eastleigh News that wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation was the latest group “to add to the long list of organisations concerned about Eastleigh council’s plans to devastate the most environmentally sensitive parts of the borough.” But responding, Council Leader Keith House said he is “confident” that the new development will “increase bio-diversity” not diminish it.
Butterfly Conservation say that surveys carried out 10 years ago shows that the site chosen by Eastleigh Council for 5,200 houses has previously supported a diverse variety of butterfly habitats and currently could be home to even more species.
Steve Wheatley Senior Regional Officer for Butterfly Conservation told ADD that the surveys, carried out between 1994 – 2008 recorded 25 different butterfly species in the threatened area.
“A butterfly survey was walked in this area for fifteen years. This highlighted the presence of these butterflies, including the White Admiral, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species and Species of Principal Importance in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. It is important that local authorities take steps to conserve and enhance populations of such priority species.”
In an email to Eastleigh News Mr Wheatley explained that although a survey had been last carried out a decade ago, the findings were still relevant:
“The assessment of the area’s butterfly population is a broad landscape assessment based upon a number of factors including habitat and species data held nationally and at a county level. The butterfly survey and monitoring 10-24 years ago certainly help to inform that picture.
During that survey period 25 butterfly species were recorded and I think it’s very likely that those species are likely to still be present in the landscape, and I suspect several other butterflies could also be present.”
“ We would encourage further, targeted searches and surveys to help to establish the distribution and abundance of butterflies and other species and the potential impact of any development.”
As part of the Local Plan submission the Council has been working on a biodiversity report which is due to be published next week along with supporting evidence. In anticipation, the Leader of Eastleigh Council, Keith House told Eastleigh News:
“We are confident that biodiversity will increase as a result of our Local Plan proposals in Bishopstoke and Fair Oak given much of the land is currently commercial farmland that lacks biodiversity, and the substantial tree and shrub planting that will take place.”