Friday, December 8, 2023

Once It’s Gone It’s Gone: Wildlife Perspective on Far Laund Development

As you may be aware Amber Valley Borough Council plan to delete 58 acres of land off Far Laund Belper from the Green Belt and build 500 houses on it. The council acknowledges that this action will affect wildlife.

I write this piece on behalf of all those that live in , visit and enjoy the area in and around Far Laund Belper and indeed anyone who is passionate about wildlife.

I am a member of Derbyshire Wildife Trust and East Midlands Butterfly Conservation however this is a personal view.

Our planet is overcrowded, and we are all worried about our natural resources; plastic in our oceans, unsustainable living and the destruction of habitat including wildflower meadows and hedgerows, and a general reduction in the variety of plant and animal life. The latter may pose an even bigger threat than climate change.

At a local level the wildlife cannot talk, so I’m going to try and update you a little on what nature exists right on our doorstep. The ‘share of voice for wildlife in the arguments against Amber Valley Borough Council’s plan have been quiet. Until now;-


Did you know that 22 of the 58 UK butterfly species can be seen just off Far Laund? – that is over 1/3. Such rarities as the Wall Brown and the elusive Clouded Yellow have been spotted. Even the names sound magical; Ringlet, Small Copper , Holly Blue and Speckled Wood Peacocks and Painted Lady amongst many others. Who can say that these glittering jewels cannot lift the spirit and brighten your day? – after all that is what greenbelt is all about – providing a protected space for you to enjoy our incredible landscape. Many of the 22 butterflies require grass as a foodplant for their caterpillars.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…


There are a huge number of birds to be seen and heard off Far Laund. Many of you will have heard them; I heard a Curlew* calling twice last week. These are heard most springs.. Similarly the once common Lapwing* is still hanging on in the area and Grey Partridge* have also been observed. Skylarks* can be heard singing too – it’s difficult not to stop and appreciate the marvellous sound of a skylark’s intricate song falling from way, way above. These birds can fly up to 300M from where they perform their complicated song for up to an hour. All these species require open farmland and fields to live and breed and the Green Belt land off Far Laund suits them perfectly.

There are many birds of prey in the area. Buzzards are a welcome sight , patrolling the farmland. Kestrels are seen hunting , sparrowhawks are common and only a week ago I was fortunate enough to see a merlin* catch a starling in a remarkable encounter. There is a large small mammal population which in turn attracts owls including Little Owls, Tawny Owls* and even the ethereal Barn Owl* has been seen quartering the area.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…


At night time many of these beautiful flying insects appear including the Ruby Tiger, Poplar Hawkmoth and Brimstone Moth. On particularly special warm summer evenings displays of ghost moths can be seen with their characteristic ‘rise and fall’ display flights. It has recently been shown that moths play an important role as pollinators for many plants including commercial agricultural crops and that these insects can be affected by an increases in light pollution.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…


Around a quarter of the UKs species of bee occur just off Far Laund including the Early Mining Bee, Hairy-footed flower bee and Red-tailed bumblebee.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…


In the 1950s it is estimated that there were over 30 million hedgehogs* in the UK. Now there are thought to be less than a million. They are found in good numbers along Far Laund. There are numerous small mammals too including the Common Shrew*, short-tailed vole and Wood Mouse with associated small carnivores such as the weasel which uses the cover of drystone walls to hunt. There are plenty of bats which take advantage of the night-flying insects.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…


If this much wildlife is under threat at Far Laund justthink about how much more is likely to be under threat across the other 13 sites that Amber Valley proposes to delete from Green Belt. It is crucial that we all supply feedback on the proposal to make sure that the council know how much we love and appreciate where we live and that we all feel that our Green Belt adds irreplaceable value to the area and is a huge part of why we choose / chose to live here in the first place. The council has recorded that the effect on ‘Quality of Life’ for residents is ‘uncertain’ !! What do you think? Make yourself heard! Our individual responses are critical. Those species noted above with * are particularly important. If you have seen/heard these species off Far Laund mention it in your feedback to Amber Valley Council.

The deadline for objections is soon – Thursday 2nd May 4.30pm so it is critical for you to have your say on this matter NOW. Without your help wildlife on Far Laund will disappear. Are you going to stand by and let that happen? This is your opportunity to make a real difference.

Once the habitat has gone it’s gone…
Objections can be made:

  1.  Online:
    Select ‘Online Consultation Form’
    The sections relevant to the Far Laund site proposals are:
    Housing Growth Site Policy HGS1 – Far Laund
    Housing Growth Site Policy HGS19 – Far Laund
    Amendment to the green belt policy SS10 – Far Laund
    Please do not be put off by the online form, complete the sections you feel passionate about and click submit. All objections must be unique so do not copy and paste. Each individual regardless of age is entitled to submit an objection. You can object even if you live outside the borough.
  2.  Representations can be made either by email to
  3. By post to:
    Planning Policy Team, Amber Valley Borough Council, Town Hall, Market Place, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3BT
    For more information and examples of previously submitted objections join us on Facebook at Save Far Laund Green Belt or Twitter @savefarlaundgr1 or simply email us at

Written by Save Far Laund Green Belt group.

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