If councillors and employees at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council are doing their jobs properly, they should already be fully aware of the significance of the site of planning application 22/00444/PIP for amphibians, toads in particular.

Take a look at a document, which was submitted by consultants Aspect Ecology acting on behalf of Croudace Homes, in support of another planning application – 19/00018/OUT. Dated May 2019 and titled ‘Toad Mitigation Option Study and Proposed Strategy’ it was submitted on 4 July 2019. For those that don’t know, this was an application, which was approved by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council on 6 April 2021, to build 350 homes plus accessories two fields away from the site of 22/00444/PIP and the main amphibian migration route. The report can be read and downloaded by copying and pasting the following address into your browser

Click to access 19_00018_OUT-Toad_Mitigation_Strategy-4744611.pdf

The report was compiled following a meeting that took place in the Basingstoke council offices where those present included Andrew Cleave, Paul Sterry, Paul Beevers, the council planning officer associated with the development, Mark Doughty from Aspect Ecology, and representatives of developers Croudace Homes. The aim of that meeting was to discuss ways in which Croudace Homes, the developer of the Upper Cufaude Farm site, could compensate in environmental terms for the damage caused to biodiversity, specifically amphibians, by building 350 homes in open countryside.

Read this independent report and you will discover that the field subject to planning application 22/00444/PIP is acknowledged as the most important piece of land associated with amphibian migration on Cufaude Lane. Furthermore, Aspect Ecology recommends that a toad tunnel (in addition to the one installed by Hampshire County Council) be installed at precisely the spot where the entrance to planning application 22/00444/PIP is proposed. At the meeting, Croudace Homes indicated they were willing to fund the installation of the tunnel on commencement of work at Upper Cufaude Farm.

This document adds further weight to the argument that no form of mitigation could compensate for the loss of terrestrial habitat at the site of planning application 22/00444/PIP and the only route by which catastrophic biodiversity net loss can be achieved is by not building houses on the site.

It also demonstrates the folly of viewing prospective developments and proposed environmental mitigation in application-by-application isolation and not in a joined-up manner. Adopt the former approach and there is a danger that their overlapping and potentially conflicting environmental mitigation plans mask their collective damaging impact on the environment. Adopt the latter approach, and the result is death by a thousand cuts for the environment in general, but toads and other amphibians in particular in this instance.

I would like to think that Basingstoke & Deane’s planning and biodiversity teams are aware of this document, since it is on the council’s planning portal. However, it cannot hurt to remind them of its existence and the fact they have already acknowledged the environmental importance of the field subject to planning application 22/00444/PIP by dint of treating it as part of an environmental mitigation plan that enabled a previous planning application to be approved.

Comments can be sent to bethan.wallington@basingstoke.gov.uk referencing planning application 22/00444/PIP, and should include your name, address and the date of writing.