MEMBERS of Extinction Rebellion gathered outside housing developers in Bradford on Avon to protest for trees and hedges to be replaced after the habitat of bats was destroyed.

After the hedge row on Holt Road were cut down by Bellway Homes for the new Tithecote Manor housing development, campaigners gathered to say this was was an important bat corridor, and that other suitable greenery should be planted.

A spokesman for Bradford on Avon Extinction Rebellion said: “We calling on Bellway Homes to replant the hedgerow with mature native trees and hedging as a matter of urgency this Autumn, and make a significant financial contribution to Bradford on Avon’s campaign to tackle the climate and ecological emergency by way of compensation for the damage. There has been the tragic loss of ecology and disruption of the flight-path of protected bat species.

“This includes the rare and critically endangered Bechstein’s bat breeding colony, that travels between Trowbridge Woods maternity roost and its winter hibernation sites North of Bradford.

“Bechstein’s bat is one of the UK’s rarest mammals, recorded from only a tiny number of sites in southern England and Wales.

“Very few maternity roosts are known, and Trowbridge Woods is the most important maternity roost in the UK Efforts by local residents to protest at the damage have had no success.

“The developer has ignored repeated requests to restore the hedgerow and failed to respond in any positive way.”

Members of Extinction Rebellion also highlighted the poor environmental design of Tithcoate Manor during their protest.

Their spokesman added: “The development which lacks renewable energy features like solar panels or heat pumps, or any cycle lane into the centre of town, with a narrow and dangerous pavement for pedestrians.

“The houses which are totally unaffordable for most local people are crammed into the site which is based around car ownership rather than sustainable travel.

“The estate represents a completely wasted opportunity at a time when councils and the government are recognising a climate and ecological emergency.

“The development advertises a desirable rural location however Bellway Homes have only damaged this vital wildlife habitat.”

A spokesman for Bellway said: “Ecological measures at Tithecote Manor have been at the forefront of discussions between Bellway and Wiltshire Council throughout the planning process.

"As part of this, Bellway worked with the council’s ecological team to explore the potential impact of the development on the local bat population and to create a welcoming environment where they could thrive.

"This involved a management plan for existing trees and hedgerows. Key corridors where bats would pass through were identified and protective measures put in place, including planting, installing bat boxes in public areas and limiting external lighting across the development. Tithecote Manor will also incorporate a new orchard and allotments.

“At an early stage of the build programme, part of a hedgerow was removed in error. Bellway immediately apologised for this and worked with the council’s ecological officers to reinstate the hedgerow to successfully mitigate the issue. Bellway will continue to work alongside Wiltshire Council to ensure that local wildlife can continue to thrive in the area.”