Surrey

Fears for badgers on Epsom Mill Road housing site

Badger setts on land off Mill Road
Image caption The land off Mill Road is peppered with entrances to active badger setts

A housing development on former railway land could collapse a network of badger setts and force the animals into a much small area, according to residents.

A planning application for 10 detached and semi-detached houses on the 1.2 acre site off Mill Lane, Epsom has been submitted to Epsom and Ewell council.

"The wildlife is going to be squashed into an area that will not sustain them," said Councillor Julie Morris.

The developer has donated part of the site to a wildlife trust.

Donate land

Residents attempted to buy the land four years ago when it was sold at auction by Network Rail but were outbid.

They have since formed Millbridge Wildlife Trust to protect the wildlife.

The Shrewsbury-based developer, Loganberry Ltd, has agreed to donate about one third of the land to be left as a wildlife area, with a £100,000 endowment to be administered by a trust.

Ms Morris, who lives opposite the site, said some development was probably inevitable but sufficient foraging ground was vital to sustain the badgers.

Image caption Residents have campaigned to protect the wildlife on the land

"The offer by the developer to bequeath the freehold of the remaining land and endow the trust is generous and hopefully something can be negotiated," she said.

Loganberry spokesman David Waller said the original scheme for the site was for 23 houses.

"It has been more than halved and the development is considered to be the most suitable use of that land," he said.

"The developer could have applied for the setts to be closed and developed the whole site but has chosen not to do that. This is definitely a compromise.

"It is sustainable because the land connects to a very substantial area of embankment which will be used by the badgers."

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