By Ewan Foskett
Thursday, May 31, 2012
THE battle to keep burials in Royston may be set for trouble after evidence of badgers and bats were discovered at a proposed cemetery.
Surveys costing £4,278 will now have to be commissioned by Royston Town Council to ensure development on the planned Wicker Hall site is feasible.
The news was revealed on Monday that an old badger sett was found along with rotten trees that could host bats. An ecologist told the Crow that if the searches come back positive, the project could be delayed for up to 12 months.
Members reacted angrily to the news, with Cllr Davison fearing the reaction of the public when there was no evidence of recent animal activity.
“I think that council tax payers in Royston will wonder why it’s necessary when there is no evidence of badgers or their latrines and further there is no evidence of bats.
“I think this is an example of risk adverse legislation that has become more common over the past 10 years or so and risk adverse interpretation of legislation in the planning department.
“It’s good there wasn’t snow on the ground when they did the inspection or they would have found evidence of polar bears.”
District councillor Peter Burt, who has been heading up the cemetery working party, was more measured in his response.
He said: “I’m not happy about it, but it is one of those things we have to live with.
“If we don’t do it, we won’t get planning permission – that’s the situation.”
A planning application has been registered for the cemetery, which would take Royston’s deceased after North Herts District Council decided to move all burials to Letchworth as Royston’s Melbourn Street sites were reaching capacity.
The district council is working with the town council on the 1.7 acre site which would have enough room for 100 year’s worth of burials.
An anonymous £25,000 was gifted to the council to buy the site, but the authority will be responsible for the development of the cemetery which is likely to cost between £100,000-£190,000.
A bridle way leading up to the cemetery will need to be upgraded and initial talks with Hertfordshire Highways revealed it may have to be tarmaced, with grass left on the side for horses.
Cllr Burt told members it is in a “dire condition” but using that measure on the 260m access route would be “very expensive”.
The authority will be looking for sponsorship if the bridle way is tarmaced but it is awaiting a response from Hertfordshire Highways.