Campaign group fighting to save wildlife refuge
- Credit: Shan Tilakumara
A campaign has been launched to prevent further destruction of a much-loved wildlife sanctuary and prevent a community from being blighted by over-development.
SAVE Napsbury Wildlife Refuge was set up after the green space between North Cottages, Napsbury Park and the London Main Line was cleared by contractors working for the landowner.
The site, near London Colney, has been left relatively undisturbed for many years, gradually rewilding itself to become a sanctuary for wildlife including foxes, deer, voles, bats and many species of birds and butterflies.
Although council officials and Herts police were called to investigate the clearance, the contractors were acting completely legally so no action could be taken to stop them.
Following an online meeting of North Cottage residents and local campaigners, SAVE Napsbury Wildlife Refuge was formed for local residents and other defenders of the natural world to come together and resist the destruction of further wildlife habitats.
Local Green campaigner Mark Park-Crowne: "The faults and failures of the planning system are so legion that it is difficult to know where to start.
"What sticks in our throats is to see valuable wildlife habitat wantonly damaged in front of our eyes before planning permission has been granted, and for there to be nothing that we can do to stop it.
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"In a properly functioning democracy with local accountability, landowners should be obliged to conserve their land for wildlife until a final decision about land use has been made through the proper channels.
"In fact developers have a financial incentive to cause as much damage as possible to the ecology of their land, as it makes it more difficult to resist planning permission on the grounds of valuable habitat."
Resident Deb Lancaster added: "I am very well aware that we have a great need for housing in Hertfordshire. I’m not generally a NIMBY, but it feels that this sort of site should not be prioritised for development when we have brown field and more easily accessible sites available.
"The proposed site is a natural, untouched wilderness, a very rare asset in St Albans. The flora and fauna present in this area have been undisturbed by development or agriculture, or even pedestrians for many years, and it is a very mature wild area. There are available brown sites within the area that would be far more beneficial to the overall environment than the sacrifice of this virgin land."