PRINCE Charles’s plans to create an activity centre in a world famous wilderness have been defeated...by a rare bird.
By: Camilla Tominey
Published: Sun, April 21, 2013
It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb protected birds close to their nesting sites
The Prince’s Duchy of Cornwall estate failed in its efforts to develop an unused quarry on Dartmoor, Devon, because of a peregrine falcon.
The protected bird of prey saw off the developers after planners said they feared the project at Merrivale, near Yelverton, would force it to abandon its home and breeding site.
Members of the Dartmoor National Park development management committee kicked out the Duchy’s project earlier this month on the grounds that the falcon cannot be threatened by a commercial enterprise.
Under the law, it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb protected birds close to their nesting sites during the breeding season.
A pair of peregrines were reported to have been seen mating at the site in March. They also attempted to breed in 2012 but were unsuccessful.
The RSPB opposed the Duchy’s scheme, which would have included a zip wire, climbing walls and kayaking facilities.
We should allow the peregrine falcons to enjoy their freedom. They have been there a considerable number of years
Natural England, the Government’s advisor on safeguarding the nation’s natural heritage, was also against the development and warned that it had the legal power to refer the application to the Secretary of State if necessary.
Currently, there are just 87 peregrine falcons in Devon, with a similar number in neighbouring Cornwall.
Committee chairman Helen Jenny said that when members attended the quarry and approached a pool area a pair of peregrines were disturbed and took flight.
John Nutley, also a member of the committee, said: “We should allow the peregrine falcons to enjoy their freedom. They have been there a considerable number of years.”
His colleague Bill Hitchins, originally in favour of the plans, said the local authority was in danger of laying itself open to some sort of legal challenge if it accepted the Duchy scheme.
He said: “I support the recommendation to refuse this. I’ve changed my mind.”
The committee decided to reject the scheme by 12 votes to three.