District planners are being urged to “remove their blinkers” before a thriving colony of barn owls is destroyed by “calamitous” development. Michael Nailard, Chairman of The Woodland, Flora and Fauna Group for Mid Sussex (pictured right), said: “Barn owls have 41 nesting boxes in Mid Sussex and although this year has been classed as a poor year for breeding barn owls by experts, they are thriving here.
“The highest number of owls this year was found in the north of Hurstpierpoint in an area threatened by the expansion of Burgess Hill development. Despite advice being given to the district council of the high conservation value of this area, wildlife and countryside interests continue to be ignored.
“When they finally remove their blinkers, it will be too late to redeem the calamitous situation we will be faced with.
“The latest inspection revealed some wonderful additions to our owl population. It will be a tragedy if they are to be deprived of this area for hunting, roosting and breeding.”
The development area in the draft district plan is on the south side of the A2300 just within the boundary of Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common parish.
A business park could be built on the site, with about 3,500 homes being built on the north side of the A2300 on land to the west of St Paul’s Catholic College.
Councillor Gary Marsh, Cabinet Member for Planning said: “The Council has consulted with the West Sussex County ecologist on this application and will continue to do as plans develop. The planning committee will take the views of the ecologist, and those of other correspondents, into account when it is time to determine the outcome of this application.”