SnOasis could mean bats suffer

A NUMBER of rare bat species could suffer if the SnOasis development is allowed to go ahead it was claimed today.Speaking on the 15th day of a public inquiry into the mammoth winter sport development, wildlife expert Doctor Robert Stebbings said the disused quarry at Great Blakenham is home to some of the world's most endangered bat species.

A NUMBER of rare bat species could suffer if the SnOasis development is allowed to go ahead it was claimed today.

Speaking on the 15th day of a public inquiry into the mammoth winter sport development, wildlife expert Doctor Robert Stebbings said the disused quarry at Great Blakenham is home to some of the world's most endangered bat species.

Doctor Stebbings has studied bats for more than 50 years and was highly critical of wildlife studies carried out at the site on behalf of Onslow Suffolk the developers behind the SnOasis project.

He said: “Much of my life has been devoted to the study of bats and I'm disappointed that much of the work done to establish the importance of bats on this site is lacking considerably”.

The inquiry at Ipswich Corn Exchange heard that a series of radio tracking surveys had been carried out during which a number of bats were caught and had small radios stuck to them before being released. The aim of the study was to monitor the movement and activity of bats on the site but Dr Stebbings was unhappy with the result.

He said: “Essentially, the radio tracking studies were very poorly designed and executed”.

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He said that to gain real evidence of the use of the site by bats studies would need to be carried out over a much longer period of time. He was also critical of the amount of time the bats were kept in captivity.

He said: “Best practice would result in bats being released within 15 minutes of capture at most but these study animals were mostly in captivity for three to five hours. The trauma involved in this will account for ten of the animals not being seen again after release”.

The inquiry heard that among the species recorded at the site was the “internationally rare” Pond Bat.

Dr Stebbings said: “This is an important discovery because the species is very rare in Western Europe and it is declining. If it is trying to gain a foothold in this country then what we should be doing is establishing the status of that animal, whether it is breeding here, where it is roosting etc.

“It implies that there's a group of these bats living in this area of Suffolk and therefore more research needs to be done before we can establish whether it does or does not use the application site”.

Concerns were also raised about the lighting associated with the SnOasis development.

Dr Stebbings said: “The lighting that's going to be used will make the whole site untenable for light sensitive species of bats, for example, the Long Eared Bat and the Myotis Bat.

n. Do you think SnOasis should be given the go-ahead? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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