VOTE: Should jobs be a higher priority than wildlife?

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WILDLIFE supporters have warned a planned commercial park in Bognor Regis would ruin a haven for animals and plants.

The West Sussex Wildlife Protection Group says the plans for the former Lec Airfield site would wreck a rare rural environment.

Simon Wild, of the group, has told Arun District Council the proposal for the Enterprise@BognorRegis scheme failed to take the environment into account.

“Building on the Lec site will destroy a site which has a great deal of wildlife interest,” he said. “This is an important area which should be conserved, not reduced.

“There are a number of birds which use the site. Some such as yellowhammer, linnet, grey partridge and Cetti’s warbler are birds that are especially important.

“There are also butterflies on site such as small copper and common blue as well as plants like agrimony, gypsywort and reed beds.

“The Lidsey Rife which adjoins the rife is also important. It holds breeding water birds such as little grebe, moorhen and coot, and warblers like Cetti’s reed and sedge.”

Mr Wild said Bognor Regis Golf Course would be the only open space left. “It seems increasingly likely that it will be more like an oasis than a corridor, if it is to be hemmed in on all sides.

“Wildlife cannot be confined to nature reserves or small, isolated patches.

“There needs to be a coherent policy on the environment, not just window dressing.”

His comments were among the 32 responses received by the council to its consultation last September and October about the airfield idea.

They made 71 representations. These were reported to Arun’s Bognor Regis sub-committee.

Any changes which result from them will be included in the local plan’s next version.

Cllr Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) said: “This is a major contribution to the regeneration, not just of this site, but Bognor itself.”

Cllr Gillian Brown, the council’s leader, said: “It’s very important we are successful in this.

“We have definitely got to address the 14,000 people who outcommute from the district daily.”

What do you think?

Should jobs be a higher priority than wildlife? Have your say in the vote panel on the right and leave your comments below.