Newark community rallies to stop bat trees being cut down for car park

Residents have gathered to protest against a car park development in local gardens as bats have been found to be living in them.

Bats have been discovered at the Library Gardens, Newark, where four mature trees are at imminent risk of being felled, after Newark and Sherwood district councillors (NSDC) voted to create a small car park extension not wanted by the community. 

Conservation organisation, St George’s Trust, visited the condemned site and trees on 25 October and detected 108 Bat Calls in 40 minutes.

The wildlife charity has now advised that NSDC “should abide by the law and implement a full Ecological Impact Survey.”

The Newark community hopes this bat discovery will stop the trees being chopped down. (Emma Oldham)

In Britain, all bat species and their roosts are legally protected. This means it is a criminal offence to damage or destroy a place used by bats for breeding or resting even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time.

The Stop the Chop campaign, set up by community group Protect Newark’s Green Spaces in response to the planned car park development, is now calling for Newark and Sherwood District Council to pause the imminent destruction of the trees in order to carry out a bat survey. 

Ecological Impact Surveys are a legal requirement for developments affecting places where bats roost.

Despite lime trees, such as the ones in Library Gardens, being prime spots for bat roosts, there is no evidence of any detailed bat survey having been carried out in official planning documents for the London Road car park extension. 

One of the trees has been covered in posters. (Emma Oldham)

As bats are fully protected by both British and European law, local authorities and building firms risk huge fines if developments result in bat roosts being disturbed or destroyed.

Building firm Bellway was recently fined a record £600,000 after construction work damaged bat roosts in Greenwich. 

“It’s plain as day what our councillors have to do,” says Stop the Chop’s Emma Oldham.

“They know mistakes have been made but it’s not too late to change their mind and stop the chop.”

There will be a peaceful Candlelit Vigil at 6pm on Saturday at the Library Gardens to allow the community to unite once to reflect on this precious green space.

Previous Stop the Chop events, such as last week’s Picnic Under The Trees have brought more than 200 residents together.

The Picnic Under the Trees event helped to bring more than 200 residents together. (Emma Oldham)

Support for the campaign continues to rocket.

Petition signatures are nearing 3000, volunteer numbers are surging to help monitor the site and emails and letters to councillors reach a record high as residents implore the authorities to halt the development in order to protect the bats.

The community are more united and determined than ever to protect their green oasis and the precious wildlife within it.

You can learn more and sign the petition here.

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