York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust fears 500 homes plan 'will end' ancient Askham Bog

Askham Bog Image copyright Jono Leadley
Image caption Askham Bog is the result of a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago

Proposals to build 500 homes and a school next to an ancient peat bog in York "will end a hidden jewel", a wildlife trust fears.

Plans for the development on Moor Lane were resubmitted to the authority after being rejected by the council in 2016.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT), which manages Askham Bog, is concerned the scheme will lead to a lowering of the water table and will dry it out.

Developers said the revised plans would have "no adverse impact on the bog".

Prof Alastair Fitter, an ecology specialist at YWT, said Askham Bog, a 120-acre site that was left behind by a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago, "really is a hidden jewel".

"For its size it's the richest place in Yorkshire for wildlife.

"It's just extraordinary how many plants and animals there are and the diversity of the habitat."

Image caption Prof Alastair Fitter said Askham Bog was the oldest nature reserve in Yorkshire

Prof Fitter said the development was "in the wrong place" and feared it would lead to houses being flooded.

"The reason why Askham Bog is there is because there's virtually no drainage out of that area.

"You can't build houses and let them flood and so our concern is, whether it's now or whether it's in the future, the water table will go down and that will be the end of the bog. It won't be a bog it'll just be dry woodland of no great interest."

A special event was organised by YWT at the nature reserve on Saturday to encourage more people to visit the site.

Developers Barwood Land said: "We have taken on board the comments of the YWT and other stakeholders and have spent six years undertaking a significant amount of technical work to understand and develop the scheme proposed. "

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