A CAMPAIGN has been launched to protect a community woodland from the impact of development.
Residents have come together to form the Save Maybush Copse campaign in response to plans by Orchard Homes to build 25 houses at Maybush Orchard.
The orchard is adjacent to Maybush Copse, Chidham, a community woodland area bought in 2009 by the Chichester Harbour Trust.
Stephen Johnson, from the Maybush Copse Friends, said: “This is a long-established orchard and is a site is of enormous environmental value with a wonderful diversity of flora and fauna.
“Around 50 bird species, amphibians and reptiles including newts, slow worms, toads, frogs, lizard and grass snakes inhabit the area.
“The two sites together constitute a significant environmental resource, and damage to the one would harm the other.”
More than 100 residents attended a meeting earlier this month to discuss the plans.
They fear development will mean an ‘irreversible’ loss of habitat for species currently frequently using the two areas of land.
As well as being home to a wide variety of mammals, insects, birds and reptiles, a camera trap on the site recently photographed a polecat, the first known sighting of this endangered animal in the Chichester Harbour Area.
The Observer was contacted by readers concerned about the development, including Diane Longbottom who said it appeared to ‘transgress’ district council planning guidelines, particularly given its location in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
According to the Orchard Homes website, the company is: “Currently preparing a planning application in conjunction with Chichester District Council for an executive development of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.”
A formal planning application has not yet been submitted.
The Save Maybush Copse campaign has launched an online petition: www.ipetitions.com/petition/maybushorchard.