Rare birds could thwart boutique hotel plans on Plymouth’s Drake’s Island

Plans to build a boutique hotel on Plymouth’s Drake’s Island could be thwarted over conservation concerns due to a colony of rare birds.

Council planners are due to consider the latest application next week, but officers have recommended rejecting the proposals due to the impact on a colony of Little Egrets that live on the island.

Little Egrets are ranked amber on the RSPB’s conservation list, as a rare breeding species. There is thought to be only 700 breed pairs nationally.

Rotolok Holdings plans to convert the listed buildings on the island into a 25-bedroom boutique hotel, bar, restaurant and spa, and have claimed there would be “no impact” with its effect on the birds.

This is the third time that Mr McCauley, who owns the island, has tried to get planning permission for his £10m plans.

A letter of representation from Natural England said: “The little egret is sensitive to human disturbance and, for this reason, selects sites that are remote from human activity.

“It is a highly social species and use of sites for breeding and roosting are based on what may be viewed as a ‘group decision’ taken by the local population.

“If the development were to result in disturbance, as we believe is likely even with the proposed mitigation in place, this may result in the complete loss of the breeding colony from this site and communal roost rather than a reduction in numbers of birds present.”

The planning officer’s support, which will be discussed by councillors on Thursday, January 15, says that Rotolok and the council have so far failed to come to a positive agreement.

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