Published on 23/06/2013 06:00
A WILDLIFE expert claims animals and birds living in Combe Haven in the path of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road are ‘suffering terrible cruelty’.
Don Wise, who has more than 50 years of experience in wildlife conservation and was the very first Ranger at Hastings Country Park, says the construction work is destroying more and more of the creatures’ habitat.
He said: “I saw signs of badgers desperately seeking food because their normal foraging fields had been destroyed.
“I saw unbelievably poor arrangements for protecting the great crested newt with fencing badly constructed and misplaced.
“I saw foraging fields for snipe drastically cut in size since the start of the nesting season.”
Lapwings, a farmland bird which has suffered significant declines recently and is now Red Listed, the highest category of conservation importance, were of particular concern to Don, who lives close to Combe Haven.
He said: “I saw construction teams working far too close to the lapwings, preventing the birds from using their correct foraging grounds.
“It is simply ridiculous that Jacobs, the county council’s ecologists in the valley, and the construction companies, hold back from destroying the lapwing nests, then deny the birds the opportunity to feed.
“In my opinion, the way the birds were flying was an indication that they were distressed.
“To me, the birds were jinking about as if their chicks were in danger.”
He said he had raised his concerns with Jacobs, which had promised to get back to him to discuss his concerns.
But he said no one from the company has got back to him about the matter.
Don added: “I’m certain that this will be the last of the lapwings that we’ll see in the Combe Haven.
“In building this Link road through this wildlife oasis, a wildlife tragedy is unfolding.
“That’s the truth of it and the county council is responsible.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “In the planning process for the Link Road scheme we carried out extensive surveys and drew up an environmental management plan in consultation with Natural England.
“All the ecological work we are carrying out, including the trapping and moving of great crested newts, is in accordance with strict guidelines laid down under the licences we hold for working with protected species.
“We have also erected screening to minimise the disruption to ground nesting birds.
“We welcome feedback from residents and will be happy to listen to Mr Wise’s concerns.”