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BIRDS THREATEN PLANNED CENTRE FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS

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A controversial plan to house 750 asylum-seekers in an accomodation centre in Worcestershire could be blocked after...
A controversial plan to house 750 asylum-seekers in an accomodation centre in Worcestershire could be blocked after the discovery of protected birds nesting on the proposed site, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p11).

Birdwatchers have spotted barn owls and skylarks on the site at Throckmorton airfield, near Pershore. Both species are protected by European directives and the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it an offence to disturb their nests during the breeding season.

Jack Hegarty, head of planning at Wychavon DC, said the birds' presence could derail the Home Office's plan.

'It could be a showstopper', he said. 'We want to involve wildlife trusts and English Nature but we don't know the full extent of the ecological concerns until there's a public discussion. As a council, we've made it clear that we don't believe this is the right site'.

The former RAF base is one of three proposed sites for the accomodation centres. Others have been earmarked at Bicester, Oxfordshire, and at Newton, Nottinghamshire.

A Home Office spokesman commented: 'We are poised to submit planning notification. An environmental assessment, including an ecological survey, will be submitted as part of that process'.

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