Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 9

November 6th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

This took place on Thursday 6th October. The inquiry was split into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, because the venue wasn’t available in the afternoon. The entire day was taken up with the evidence from Dr Peter Shepherd, ecology expert and witness for the Mawle Trust.

In his initial evidence, Dr Shepherd reviewed the statement of common ground prepared by both sides and highlighted the difference between the proposed Cogges Link Road and the Shores Green alternative. Key points:

  • Habitat fragmentation: Oxfordshire County Council claim it is slight but Dr Shepherd considers it is slight to high.
  • Mitigation of effects on wildlife: the CLR plans contain mitigation measures but the road will still impact on badger, dormouse and bat mortality.
  • The council plans to install fencing to protect otters, but Dr Shepherd said that a 30cm overhang is necessary, because otters climb fencing. The fencing in the plans does not have this overhang because of the council’s concerns about visual intrusiveness.
  • Dr Shepherd has concerns that the county council have not properly considered the effects of increased noise levels of CLR on the breeding bird population, particularly song birds.
  • Building the road will involve stripping the topsoil from land, which will leave subsoil and clay, leading to poor drainage of the land.
  • The Shores Green option would require minimal mitigation, with some compensation habitats for birds.

Dr Shepherd was then cross-examined by Matthew Reed, lawyer for the county council.  Key points:

  • Dr Shepherd acknowledged that although the CLR’s mitigation costs will be greater, they are not unachievable.
  • Dr Shepherd voiced reservations about the dormouse mitigation measures of the CLR scheme. He said that if the compulsory purchase order is confirmed, one would have to assume that the Inspector had concluded that CLR is indeed the best option. In that instance Dr Shepherd would expect a European Licence concerning dormice issues to be forthcoming.

The inquiry adjourned for the afternoon, resuming at 4:45pm for the evening session.

Mr Reed continued to cross-examine Dr Shepherd, who mentioned again his concerns with habitat fragmentation and road mortality. Dr Shepherd said that there is no in situ evidence to show that dormouse bridges work on concrete bridges. Mr Reed argued that there is also no evidence to show that they do not work.

Mr Reed stated that the CLR scheme would result in increased wetland areas for bats to forage, but Dr Shepherd pointed out that bats would have to fly across a road in order to reach them and that the Shores Green option would have no likely impact on bats at all.

Dr Shepherd also said that habitat fragmentation may increase the road mortality of badgers. Mr Reed countered by stating that the CLR will result in an increased area for badgers to inhabit, but Dr Shepherd pointed out that a bigger habitat is no use to a badger if it’s killed on the road trying to reach it.

Dr Shepherd also said that Shores Green would be a change to an existing roadway, whereas the Cogges Link Road would be roughly 1.8km of new road.

Mr Reed said that the removal of the top soil would be an engineering issue and could be overcome, but Dr Shepherd said this was not necessarily the case.

Wayne Beglan, lawyer for the Mawle Trust, re-examined Dr Shepherd, who concluded:  “…My view is that CLR will result in adverse effects with some mitigation but it is better to avoid harm in the first place and chose SGSR [Shores Green].”

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