Maids Moreton developer's biodiversity plans are 'a work of fiction', ecologist claims

Leading academic examined the 170-home proposals on behalf of the Maids Moreton & Foscote Action Group

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 1:01 pm

A leading academic has denounced builders' biodiversity plans at a controversial new homes development in Maids Moreton as 'a work of fiction'..

Tim Shreeve, Professor of Conservation Ecology at Oxford Brookes University, examined the proposals by David Wilson Homes for the 170-home development on a greenfield site on behalf of the Maids Moreton & Foscote Action Group.

In an article in The Times newspaper this week, Prof Shreeve was quoted as saying: "The biodiversity metrics have been applied with erroneous initial values and the so-called biodiversity plan is really a work of fiction."

Professor Tim Shreeve

Prof Shreeve told the Advertiser the developers had made three attempts at meeting biodiversity targets in their plans, after he objected to their first two attempts, and each time there were inaccuracies and inconsistencies in such things as the number and condition of hedgerows and the size of the site.

He said: "It's almost as if you were trying to juggle it to get it right."

And he added: "What nobody's picked up in the biodiversity metrics is that the biodiversity value of linear features such as hedgerows cannot be substituted by the biodiversity value of spatial units, because the whole method of calculation is completely different.

"So to demonstrate a gain, you have to have a gain of both. You've only got a supposed gain of one and a loss to the other. It's all very weird. So this is why I say it's all a work of fiction because they're making the numbers up to make things fit, rather than actually reflecting what's on site.

"It's a work of fiction because they keep making up the numbers, they keep altering it without actually demonstrating why.

"You can't actually trust anything that's said about supposed biodiversity gain on this site."

A spokesman for Barratt, which owns David Wilson Homes, said: "As the UK’s leading national sustainable housebuilder, we are working hard to make sure our new developments create net gains for biodiversity and we have worked with government and our partners such as the RSPB to develop best practice for the industry in this area.

"On this development, the information used and provided to the local authority follows the relevant and applicable guidance, has been accepted by the local authority, and our biodiversity plans will develop as the development progresses through the planning process.”