Barnsley development will have “long standing impact” on biodiversity says campaigner

“You cannot treat biodiversity as a commodity which is exchangeable”, says an environmental campaigner, after Barnsley Council announced plans for new greenery to replace green space lost to a development at Hoyland.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 7:00 am

Ci Davies, of Extinction Rebellion Sheffield, says that there is “no evidence” that biodiversity offsetting – compensation for biodiversity impacts associated with development – leads to any “sustainable gain” in biodiversity by moving it elsewhere.

Mr Davies says that “there is no gain whatsoever, only loss in Hoyland for people and their access to nature, adding that biodiversity offsetting and net gains are a “sleight of hand”, and “means by which at this critical time, big business can be allowed to carry on with business as usual.”

“Ecology is the relationship of organisms to each other and their physical surroundings, so if you alter one thing, then you change a whole set of interrelationships. And that has huge implications for an area, which has been totally messed up and totally damaged, and that will have very long standing impact,” he added.

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Barnsley Council announced plans last week to plant new woodlands, hedgerows, shrubs, and wildflowers at Hoyland Common, in a bid to “recover and enhance” the Hermes site, which is currently under construction.

A 363,000sq ft Hermes hub, the largest of its kind in Europe, is currently being built off Sheffield Road in Hoyland, leading to complaints from residents about the loss of green space.

Barnsley Council say the loss will be mitigated, with a ten percent net gain of biodiversity off-site.

Mr Davies, however, says that plans to landscape the site “will have some benefit, but it doesn’t replace those connections that get built up over Centuries.”

“When you hear [the communities’] voice, it is almost always about the loss of nature, and that isn’t at all surprising, because it has been shown time and time an time again, access to nature to be positive for physical, and very positive for mental health.

“It’s complex, and the council wants to make it simple. They want to make it look like a set of bookkeeping, where you can just account for it, and move it around – it doesn’t work like that.”