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Villagers vow to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to protect natural habitat from golf plans

PUBLISHED: 19:05 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 12 January 2018

Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan

Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan

Archant

There is anger in a village as a wildlife haven could be destroyed to make way for a golf course.

Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan

Belton Common is designated as a County Wildlife Site (CWS) but is not a common land as it is privately owned by Bourne Leisure, who run the Haven Wild Duck Holiday Park.

In a bid to Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the holiday camp is hoping to expand and has agreed a land swap with the neighbouring Caldecott Golf Course.

In order to expand its touring caravan site, the holiday camp will exchange part of the golf course for land it owns on Belton Common, to replace the lost holes.

Conservationist David Pye, 69, whose garden in Sandy Lane backs out onto the common, said it would be an ‘absolute tragedy’ if the natural habitat, which is home to hundreds of rare bird and insect species, was lost.

Conservationist David Pye, 69, has vowed to protect the habitat. Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan Conservationist David Pye, 69, has vowed to protect the habitat. Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan

Mr Pye has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to protect the beauty spot.

He added: “Everyone round here is up in arms about this. I have been surveying this site for 30 years – most of the insects life cycles will be interrupted if the area is relandscaped and it will lead to the extinction of so many species there.”

Now other naturalists in the village are trying to get the area designated as a site of special scientific interest.

Parish councillor Margaret Greenacre said: “I know there’s a lot of bad feeling about the plans in the village, but from a planning point of view there’s nothing to stop it getting through.”

Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan Wildlife haven Belton Common is under threat from being developped into a golf course. Photo: George Ryan

An architect acting for the developer is set to speak to parish councillors and the public at a meeting on Tuesday at 7.30pm at the New Road Sport and Leisure Centre

A Wild Duck Holiday Park spokesman said: “We are going through the normal planning process with this planning application and we will, of course, respond to any objections and continue to liaise with the council planning department.”

Managing director of Caldecott Hall Golf Course Laurence Gage said Belton Common had become a persistent problem not only to the golf course, but also the village itself.

He added: “It has become a gathering point and people drive motorbikes through it and it gets set fire to a lot.”

In planning documents submitted to the parish council, the area is described as ‘waste land’ by the developers and of only ‘moderate ecological value’.

The plans show the new golf course holes would maintain the existing hedges and trees and they would work to mitigate any environmental damage by re-locating the reptiles on site and providing bat boxes.

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