Development will protect wildlife

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A proposed £55 million North-east development has been hailed for its commitment to protecting wildlife habitat.

Plans to build up to 115 new homes along with commercial enterprises at the 400 acre Fasque House Estate in Fettercairn have been submitted for approval to Aberdeenshire Council.

Concerns have been raised that the development could affect protected wildlife in the immediate area. However, a senior ecologist today moved to calm those fears by revealing how the plans have been drawn up in respect of the animals living on site.

Jackie Webley, who works for the Stonehaven based EnviroCentre and has nine years of experience in the field, is satisfied the driving forces behind the Fasque House Estate proposal have met all the relevant criteria.

“The proposals at Fasque have been designed to reduce the impact to wildlife and also include plans to improve and enhance the existing habitats,” she said.

“There are established watercourses, woodland and hedgerows that provide food, shelter and corridors for protected species such as bats, otter, badger and red squirrel.

“These important habitats are avoided and the proposals focus on what are currently arable fields, which in fact provide low value habitat for protected species therefore drastically lowering the risk.

“Fasque has placed a real emphasis on ensuring the works they have already carried out avoid impacting on wildlife and we are pleased the design team has focussed on these important features.”

EnviroCentre, which specialises in environmental consultancy, has undertaken habitat and wildlife surveys across the estate and used the findings to help shape the future development.

The most recent upgrade to the Georgian house, formerly owned by the family of four times Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone, was carried out in respect of the established bat community.

“The regeneration of Fasque House will sustain a locally important colony of roosting bats,” Jackie added.

“Over time, old buildings that lie derelict can become damp and draughty meaning that bats are less likely to roost there.

“Old buildings that are well maintained, have small gaps that lead into wall cavities and gaps under roof slates and eaves provide the perfect sites for roosting bats.

“The works already carried out on the main house took place when bats were not present and as such the roost site has been safeguarded and no bats were disturbed.”

Fasque House managing director Douglas Dick-Reid, whose company bought the Victorian mansion in July 2010, is confident that wildlife will continue to flourish.

“We have never had any intention of disrupting the existing habitats and it has always been our aim to embrace the varied wildlife we see on the estate,” he said.

“The habitats and the wildlife found on Fasque Estate are fundamental assets that we wish to safeguard for the future.”