Save nesting skylarks plea

WILDLIFE campaigners today slammed council officials for failing to provide new skylark habitats, as houses spring up on the new Ravenswood estate in Ipswich.

WILDLIFE campaigners today slammed council officials for failing to provide new skylark habitats, as houses spring up on the new Ravenswood estate in Ipswich.

But the borough council insists it will provide a new habitat for the birds.

While development is fast progressing on Ipswich's old airport site, the heavy building work is said to be destroying the nesting sites of skylarks which live in the area's long grass.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Ipswich Group has called on Ipswich Borough Council to provide an alternative area for skylarks to nest – as was a condition when they sold the airport site to developers.

Alan Rogers, chairman of the Ipswich Group Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: "Each year as more houses are built, the number of skylarks goes down.

"The agreement was that by the time 850 houses were built, Ipswich Borough Council would extend Orwell Country Park and would build a new nesting area for skylarks.

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"They have gone well over 850 homes and the borough council has not provided a nesting area. They have instead put in an application to extend the regulations."

Dr Simone Bullion, conservation officer for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: "We would have preferred if things had been progressed upon a little faster, given that it has been a number of years since that condition was been laid down."

Skylarks make small burrows in the earth in long-grassed areas. But their numbers are in rapid decline – so much so that they have been identified as a biodiversity action plan species.

But Ipswich Borough Council insists development work is only carried out in regularly trimmed areas, where skylarks do not nest.

John Stebbings, Ravenswood Project Officer for Ipswich Borough Council said: "We do prevent developers going onto land where skylarks nest and we regularly mow those areas that will be developed in the long nesting season from March to September."

He pointed out that the building of a 32-bedroom convalescent home on the Ravenswood Estate was postponed, because the designated area has skylarks nesting on it.

The borough council is now considering sites for a new skylark habitat.

Mr Stebbings said: "Work is ongoing to replace the lost habitat and there are a number of sites that Ipswich Borough Council are considering that would be ideal for ground nesting birds, such as skylarks."

Weblink: www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/suffolk.

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