WILDLIFE activists in Atworth have protested against plans to extend a unit on a business park in the village.

Property company Braemon Holdings Ltd, of Bowerhill, wants to extend Unit 8 on the Atworth Business Park, and provide landscaping and associated works.

Dr Rod Timbrell-Whittle, of Braemon Holdings, said he had "no comment" to make on the protests.

More than 15 residents have objected to the proposals, saying the scheme could have a devastating impact on local wildlife, particularly a rare colony of Great Crested Newts living in local ponds.

Karen Skeates, of Bath Road, Atworth, said: “Atworth has a growing population of Great Crested Newts, which are the UK’s largest native newt species, growing up to an impressive adult overall length of 170 millimetres. They are truly a spectacular sight if you are lucky enough to see one.

“The species has seen dramatic decline over the last 60 years across Britain despite strict legal protection. This is largely due to the loss of ponds and habitat deterioration.

“It is therefore something to celebrate that we have a colony in our village, all be it on one of the last open green spaces in the village which is currently subject to a planning application.”

Earlier this year, Atworth Parish Council and Wiltshire Council backed the extension of Unit 9 on the business park.

Braemon Holdings re-submitted a planning application to extend Unit 8 in July after a previous application was refused in October 2018 on ecological grounds. The company's appeal was dismissed by a planning inspector in June.

The proposed extension would include increasing the number of parking spaces from 15 to 20.

Locals say many frogs, toads, grass snakes and newts, including their ‘jewel in the crown’ the Great Crested Newt, would be harmed by the proposed extension.

Other wildlife visitors include badgers, foxes and deer while barn owls, red kites and tawny owls fly in to hunt.

Residents' say the extension of units on the business park is having a “huge negative impact” on local wildlife.

Cheri Fayers, of Bath Road, Atworth, said: “The village has been working together to fight to oppose the planning application and the impact it will have on the wildlife in the village.

“If Wiltshire Council are serious about making decisions that will contribute to reversing the wildlife extermination crisis across the UK it is time for them to refuse planning applications such as this that result in monetary gain for the few at the price of degrading the local biosphere and all it provides for the many.

“Should the go-ahead be given for the Unit 8 extension it will constitute yet more destruction of the nature on which we all depend and possibly indicate a pattern of future building that will end all the rich life found there.

“It would be an end as this patch of land stands isolated by intensive agriculture to the south, a business park to the east and housing and roads to the north and west. There is simply no where else for the ground-living wildlife to go.

“This has had and continues to have an impact on the natural habitation of Great Crested Newts and other wildlife in this area.

“The mere presence of wildlife adds immeasurably to the joy of our lives and that of our children.

“Animals move freely in and out of gardens bordering the field and the grassland draws down carbon dioxide and sponges up water helping to mitigate both flood and drought.”

Wiltshire Council is expected to make a decision by December 19.