Wildlife taken into account for car park extension

PARKING facilities for local walkers will improve if a proposed extension to a car park at Charleton gets the green light this week.

The application by Angus Council was recommended for approval at this week’s meeting of its development standards committee.

The car park will be associated with the new £279,000 Montrose to Northwater Bridge cycle and footpath, part of which is currently the subject of a rescue mission. The Friends of Angus Herpetofauna (FAH) last week issued a plea for help to save common lizards which will be under threat when work begins on the path later this month.

Although the lizards are common in the Angus glens, they are less so in the county’s lowland areas.

The species is protected against intentional killing and injuring and there are fears that the lizards, which are slow moving and have small territories which they never leave, could fall victim to earth-moving equipment.

The FAH is currently working with Angus Council to provide temporary refuges which will attract the small reptiles, allowing volunteers to move them to a safer habitat before diggers move on to the site. So far more than 30 people have offered to help out.

A council spokeswoman said: “We have been working with the contractor T & N Gilmartin and with Trevor Rose of the Friends of Angus Herpetofauna to set up artificial refuges for the lizards, which are at present coming out of hibernation.

“It is hoped that the lizards will move to the artificial refuges and allow the volunteers to move them out of the way of the work on the construction of the new cycle path, and we are monitoring the situation closely.

“In addition, we are investigating the creation of a butterfly habitat in the cycle path area and are currently looking into the appropriate species of flowers to plant to encourage the butterflies to the area.”

Planners were seeking permission at Tuesday’s meeting for a 914 square feet expansion of the car park, which is off the access road to Woodfield Cottage off the A92, north of the town.

Infrastructure services director Eric Lowson said the land originally formed part of the now disused railway line and adjoining grass land.

He said: “The car park which currently accommodates seven cars is used by walkers, visitors etc to the extensive informal recreational areas adjacent.

“The extended site boundary will be formed by post and wire fencing, incorporating a field gate and horse stile. The car park will be finished with an unbound surface.

“The application requires to be determined by the development standards committee as the applicant is Angus Council.”

The spokeswoman added that environmental studies have been carried out prior to the application being lodged.

She said: “We are aware of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the area and this informs our planning of the project. As a matter of course, we undertake researches during project planning, using all appropriate and available sources of information, to establish if there is likely to be any impact on wildlife.

“The extension to the car park which required planning permission due to the change of use of land, is an addition to the ongoing works at the cycleway and was considered as part of the main project.”