Plans to build new homes on the site of a disused and trouble-hit reservoir in Hartlepool has sparked fears that the move could deliver a fatal blow to wildlife.
Concerned residents living close to the former Hart Reservoirs, in Hart Lane, say more properties in the area could have an impact on local amenities.
The loss of a reservoir would cause untold damageConcerned resident
They also fear work on the site would prove fatal to the variety of wildlife living in the area including bats, water voles and swallows.
Those putting forward the plans believe the move could make the area safer and that it would enhance the ecology and bio-diversity.
Under the proposals put forward to Hartlepool’s planning committee, the lower reservoir will be filled in to make way for 70 new homes while the upper reservoir will be converted into a wildlife pond.
But one resident, who wished not to be named, living close to the site fears the loss of a reservoir would cause “untold damage”.
She said: “It would be fatal for many varieties of wildlife such as bats, water voles and swallows. We have lived adjacent to the proposed site since 1999, and have already witnessed a dramatic decrease in both bat and swallow numbers. This is purely anecdotal, but further habitat change cannot be helpful.
“The loss of a reservoir would cause untold damage. The lower reservoir is frequented by swans, geese, herons, lapwings, owls, moorhens, curlew amongst others. It also supports bats and water voles, both of which are supposed to be protected.
“As well as the environmental impact, the local amenities are already stretched beyond breaking point. The local primary school is heavily oversubscribed, and there are already more homes on the way.”
A report submitted to the council following a survey on the area, said: “There would be no effect on the bats. Indeed, it represents one of the few opportunities to ensure their feeding waters are retained.”
The two reservoirs were built to supply Hartlepool docks with water and it is believed the foundation stone for the reservoirs was laid in 1865.
The reservoirs are now redundant.
According to a report to the council, the area regularly falls foul to trespassers and those using drugs.
It states: “The site attracts widespread misuse despite regular supervision. There is widespread flytipping. Groups congregate around the edge of the reservoir despite the fact it is private land and notices warn of trespass and the dangers of reservoirs.
“There is evidence of alcohol consumption and drug taking.
“Whilst it is acknowledged water levels are slowly decreasing, particularly in the lower reservoir, at present, and in the immediate future, they pose a safety risk that could have fatal consequences.”
The application is currently pending a decision by planning chiefs.
To make comments on the application, visit http://eforms.hartlepool.gov.uk:7777/portal/servlets/ApplicationSearchServlet?PKID=108108