Falcon spotted on threatened Sydenham gas holders at Bell Green as demolition refused

The campaign to save the historic Bell Green Gas Holders was given an unexpected boost as Peregrine Falcons have been spotted on the Victorian structures and the application to demolish them has been refused by Lewisham Council.

The formal grounds for the refusal are that ‘prior approval’ for demolition is required due to the provision of insufficient information relating to traffic management and land remediation, contrary to Schedule 2, Class B, Part 11 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) England) Order 2015

Annabel McLaren, Chair, Sydenham Society said:  “A sharp eyed local resident has spotted peregrine falcons perched on top of one of the Bell Green gas holders. As these birds are an endangered species, and it is a criminal offence to disturb them, the Sydenham Society is calling upon Lewisham Council to undertake a full ecological report on the wildlife and biodiversity of the gas holders before any decision is taken to demolish them.”

Local Bellingham Councillor Alan Hall said: “The diversity of wildlife in Bell Green is amazing and I have asked the Council not to fly in the face of local opinion and keep an eye on the birds of prey on Gas Holders and make an new assessment of their habitat.”

In a letter sent to Lewisham Council’s Head of Law, Kath Nicholson, the Sydenham Society state:

The following are criminal offences in relation to “Schedule 1” birds:

Disturbing any Schedule 1 wild bird whilst it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young

Disturbing dependent young of such a bird Schedule 1 – Birds which are protected by Special Penalties include  Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)

Workers and others that need to access areas in proximity to peregrine nest sites need to consider the effect of their activities.

The level of protection afforded to peregrines extends to the adult birds near a nest containing eggs or young. Peregrines are noisy aggressive birds when threatened and will attack humans near the nest site. Once it is apparent that a nest site or adult bird has been disturbed, the cause of the disturbance must cease immediately.

The London Peregrine Partnership advise that all roof maintenance, including aerials, masts, water tanks, etc, should be completed outside the breeding season. This also applies to demolition and redevelopment of any buildings where peregrines are nesting.

A planning application for demolition of the locally listed Gas Holders was submitted to Lewisham Council see: https://alanhall.org.uk/2018/03/25/bell-green-gas-holders-demolition-planning-application/

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