Bathampton Meadows and Bathampton Park & Ride Statement

Friday 16th October 2015

Bathampton Meadow Nature Reserve Bathampton Meadow Nature Reserve

Avon Wildlife Trust statement on the Park & Ride plans for Bathampton Meadows and Bathampton

Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) welcomes development of sustainable transport schemes in the West of England as part of an integrated transport strategy to reduce car use and CO2 emissions. However this has to be balanced against the very real concern of sustained widespread loss of biodiversity which is highlighted in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

There are 3 potential sites for consultation:
1. Land east of A4/A46 junction (A)
2. Land west of Mill Lane (B)
3. Land east of Mill Lane (F)

Site F, land east of Mill Lane, is adjacent to an Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve; Bathampton Meadows, which is a man-made wet meadow with an ox-bow lake; created in 1996 to provide additional flood relief for the A46 Bathampton bypass. These wet meadows and the oxbow lake are valuable wildlife habitat for a number of migrant birds, with waders such as dunlin, ringed and little ringed plover, and green and common sandpiper which are attracted to the muddy margins in spring and autumn. Sand martin and kingfisher have been seen regularly by the oxbow, and other migrant birds include yellow wagtail, whinchat and hobby. Small blue butterfly has been recorded here. The site provides an ideal environment for a range of dragonfly and damselfly visiting in high numbers.

Furthermore the area is within 1.5km of Bath Bat Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the site is used by several species of bat for commuting and foraging.

None of the 3 proposed sites, including that adjacent to the AWT reserve, are designated or of high biodiversity value, although all 3 are relatively close to other protected sites, and both site B and F are within a 'B-Line' (http://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/b-lines), a concept adopted by the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) to conserve and restore ecological networks.

AWT is committed to protecting and enhancing ecological networks and recognise that protecting designated sites in isolation is not sufficient to halt the loss of biodiversity. This is also stated in Paragraph 109 of the National Planning and Policy Framework. The Bath bat SAC will not support viable populations of rare bats without a sufficiently connected and extensive network of feeding habitat within the wider area.

Avon Wildlife Trust objected to the original planning application in 2009. If a P&R scheme were to go ahead in this area, our preferred option of the 3 available sites would be site B - Land west of Mill Lane, as it has no risk of flooding, will have less impact on the river corridor and will not cause disturbance to the bird life on the AWT reserve. If the outcome of the consultation is that the site adjacent to AWT reserve is chosen for the Park and Ride site, AWT would advocate that the impacts of development are addressed through mitigation or compensation, to maintain and enhance local ecological networks.