The developers of Sladnor Park have submitted a proposal to fell a significant number of trees on the site. The rationale and schedule can be found in the documents section of the PA for Sladnor Park, where they can be downloaded.

The proposal amounts to the destruction of healthy and TPO protected trees. The fact that some trees are being felled to secure sea views makes a mockery of Torbay’s own “Biodiversity and Geodiversity Action Plan” report 2006 – 2016, which was signed by Mayor Nick Bye and Helen Phillips the Chief executive of Natural England. Here is a quotation from that report:

“Since 1900 we have lost over 100 species in the UK and Torbay is no exception. As Torbay’s population increases and development pressures rise our natural landscape is slowly diminishing. This document aims to highlight the habitats and species in Torbay of conservation importance and, if known, their current status. If we are to achieve sustainability of our biodiversity and geodiversity then the key will be to maintain and where possible increase these habitats and species for the future.”

MCG member Richard Whistance has produced a response to the submitted documents

  • Trees to be removed schedule,
  • Response to tree-landscaping comments,
  • Arboriculture Consultee Comments.

Main areas proposed for destruction are

  • The copse and specimen Monkey Puzzle tree at the main entrance,
  • The Mature Beech and other habitat rich trees in front of the ˜folly”,
  • The lower copse on the band containing Yew, a large mature Lime tree and vigorous other native trees,
  • Land upon which many active Slow worm colonies exist today.

This impressive healthy and maturing Monkey Puzzle tree is a unique specimen tree for the area and is a landmark at the entrance.

It is stated in the tree-felling schedule by SJ Stephens Associates to have a remaining lifespan of just 15 – 40 years.

This Monkey puzzle tree is over 70 years old because it produces seeds. Trees of this species can live as long as 1000 years.


Slow worms are protected by the Wildlife and countryside act 1981

On Saturday May 4th, 2019, whilst out walking within the footprint proposed for the ECV’s development, I discovered a new slow worm nursery where I saw at least 10 young slow worms.

There are many more active nurseries nearby.

During initial land clearance work no mitigation whatsoever was forthcoming in regards to slow worms or the two populations of bats.

The healthy Holne Oak and Sycamore tree can be found at the copse adjacent to the Monkey Puzzle tree.

The lifespan of these trees is 200 to 300 years; not 15 – 40 as advised on the tree report by ECV’s consultants Portus + Whitton Landscape Architects & S J Stephens, who actually wrote and submitted the Arboricultural report and schedule on behalf of ECV.

This incredible and mature Beech tree is proposed for destruction – why? Because the tree would prevent a clear ‘sea view’ from the folly.

This enormous tree is home to many birds and insects.

Its destruction would destroy the established habitat that exists here and weaken the hillside which falls away sharply below.

This tree could easily have another 150 years of life, holding the soil firm on the hillside and preventing flooding further down the valley.

The lower copse contains; Mature Yew, Lime Oak and Sycamore trees.

The lower copse is a very healthy and vigorous area. In 2018 a swarm of wild bees made a home in the Lime tree.

Foxes hunt here regularly as well as owls, hawks and the buzzards who also use the lime as a camouflaged perch to hunt from.

Destroying this copse would wreck their environment forever and take out a key area from which it is advantageous to hunt.

In the Torbay Local Plan, Habitats Regulations Assessment (December 2015) it states:

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended 2011) [the Habitats Regulations] require that HRA is applied to all statutory land use plans in England and Wales. The aim of the HRA process is to assess the potential effects arising from a plan against the conservation objectives of any site designated for its nature conservation importance.

References and further reading

The Torbay biodiversity report


On May 6th, 2019, the UN issued a biodiversity and endangered species report on the state of our planet. You can read the report here.



In the summer of 2017 my partner and I conducted a butterfly survey where we recorded over 120 butterflies from 18 species of butterfly within a 2-hour period. There are two species of Owl 6 nesting pairs of honey buzzards, frogs, bees, a rookery, alot of slowworms, 2 mature and 3 young foxes, spotted and green woodpeckers, the nationally unique Cirl buntings, doves, slowworms, shrews, voles and many many other species who’s habitat faces untold devastation if you give permission…. the building work will last several years and ruin areas of settled biodiversity, many of these creatures and local eco systems would not survive but you can act!

Reject the destructive Sladnor Park Proposals and do the right thing – this is the very time to act for nature and respect the conclusions of our own Torbay local biodiversity action plan!

If we are to achieve sustainability of our biodiversity and geodiversity then the key will be to maintain and where possible increase these habitats and species for the future.

Doug Palmer

Chairman, Maidencombe Community Group