West Stafford owl sanctuary plan backed despite protests

Owl taking part in display Image copyright Xtreme Falconry
Image caption The centre would display and house many different birds of prey

A new bird of prey attraction for Dorset has been given the go-ahead, despite local opposition.

Plans for the Falconry Centre and Owl Sanctuary, on a disused garden nursery near West Stafford, were approved by West Dorset councillors.

Residents living near the planned attraction claimed noise and traffic in surrounding country lanes would be "hell" if it went ahead.

The sanctuary said it was confident there would not be a noise issue.

Councillors approved the plans - 10 in favour, one against and one abstention.

Helen Yateman, who lives opposite the site, criticised the proposed access route, down a single track lane.

She said: "We moved down three years ago thinking this was a quiet lane, but now they're saying they're having all these people to visit. The road is really not up to it at all. It's going to be hell here."

'No noise issue'

The people behind the bid say it could attract up to 12,000 visitors a year and boost education, employment and tourism.

Sanctuary owner Martin Ballam said: "The entrance is before the properties and there would be a passing bay in the lane so I don't feel that's a great concern.

"I am also 100% confident that there will not be a noise issue."

Alan Thacker, chairman of Knightsford Parish Council, admitted the council had initial concerns but they were allayed when the projected visitor numbers were reduced from 20,000 to 12,000.

The attraction will be earmarked to be open annually between March and November.

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