A group of litter pickers have criticised Kettering Council for its decision to allow the building of nine “biologically dead” houses on a site adjacent to a wildlife reserve.
The Kettering Litter Action Group often cleans the site next to the Malham Drive development, which was approved in 2014.
But members feel that Kettering Council has failed to protect the wildlife value of the site, where great crested newts have been found, in a number of ways.
A letter to the Northants Telegraph read: “We work at the adjacent Asda site and during the summer it is common for these newts to be found in our warehouse yard, often after being dropped by birds, or after having crawled from the pond into our property.
“We have been cleaning and protecting both the wildlife reserve area which runs along side the Asda store and also the woodland, which has been destroyed.
“I have in the recent past seen hedgehogs, rabbits, a fox and a badger, foraging on the site during late evening.
“The council has failed to mediate or protect the biological diversity and wildlife value of the site in several ways.
“Kettering Council’s environmental record on this area is shocking and in direct dereliction of its stated biodiversity plan.
“This states that it should aim to leave habitats the same or better, in terms of wildlife, after development.
“Currently Kettering Council is requiring almost no wildlife protection when an entire habitat is destroyed by a housing development.
“A total of 120-plus trees have been chopped down to make way for nine biologically dead houses.
“I think that it is disgusting that the very people charged with protecting our hugely pressured wildlife areas are sitting back and allowing the wholesale destruction of thousands of animals every time they approve a housing development, which requires the complete obliteration of a natural habitat.”
The group’s spokesman also believes the number of homeless people living in the area is adding to the problem.
They added: “A further compounding issue is that the council has been ignoring the multiple homeless people who have been illegally living in the wildlife area between Asda and the railway line.
“These individuals left thousands of used drug needles and 300kg of flytipped rubbish in and around the newt breeding pond.
“In our spare time, several Asda employees and a volunteer provided by McDonald’s cleared this area.
“However, since that event last year, the rubbish has continued to grow and the homeless use the site as a personal dustbin.
“How is this being allowed to happen?”
Kettering Council says that any damage to sites with protected species such as great crested newts could be a legal matter.
A spokesman said: “Planning permission was granted for the residential development at Malham Drive in Kettering in 2014.
“During the application process the matters of ecology were consulted upon with Natural England and The Wildlife Trust and considered through the application determination process.
“The conclusions of these considerations are available on our website.
“We unable to revisit these matters with regards to this site.
“If anyone has any concerns about damage to protected species such as great crested newts, or works being undertaken without a licence from Natural England, then this could be a legal enforcement matter, which can be pursued by Northamptonshire Police and/or Natural England.
“We are aware of some rough sleeping in the area; we are in contact with the individuals, but not all of them want our help and we have no powers to remove them from private land.”