Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Great Crested Newts

We now understand that it is unlikely that the archaeological survey required by Caerphilly Council to progress the Ruperra application can be carried out before the Spring because the site’s great crested newts are hibernating.

The owner had commissioned a survey to provide the extra archaeological information required by the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust, statutory advisory body to South East Wales’ local authorities. However his ecological advisers stopped the survey because of the presence of great crested newts.

The remark of one realistic observer that after they've hibernated, they'll be nesting, highlights the problems now facing the built heritage in the whole of the UK since the ‘windows’ for carrying out surveys, tree management and indeed archaeological work itself are being considerably reduced by the needs of certain species that are considered vital to the biodiversity of the world and are legally protected.

We understand that Caerphilly Council planners are hoping that the application can nevertheless be brought for determination at the Council meeting on December 5th, providing that the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust agrees to there being no archaeological survey at this stage.

Why has it taken the owner so long (nine years in fact) to realise that if he buys a grade 2* listed building and scheduled ancient monument, an archaeological survey will be needed before his application can be determined? Those of us who value the Renaissance architecture, the site’s medieval origins and the registered historic gardens will now be even more fearful of planning consent being given and work starting on site before vital archaeological findings are taken into account.

Let us hope that Caerphilly County Council planning committee will ensure that pressure for the long awaited determination of the application will not lead to the absence and hence the discounting of the important historical and architectural needs of this most at risk historical site in the County.

We will once again inform supporters if the planning application is to come before the Planning Committee on December 5th

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