Deerly beloved: Creature discomfort on new homes site

THE plight of a wild deer whose home has been cleared to make way for a housing development has touched the hearts of local animal lovers.

A video circulating on social media of the deer scouring its decimated habitat in Greenfield has been viewed around 9,000 times.

Another image of the creature shows it on land behind Shaw Hall Bank Road with an earth mover in the foreground.

Residents have also complained to Oldham Council chief executive, Carolyn Wilkins, over the loss of trees previously deemed to be under a protection order.

Planning permission to Wiggett Construction was granted for 20, four-bedroom properties by Oldham Planning Committee in March 2019.

The company agreed to pay £150,000, rather than for affordable houses, towards trim trail exercise equipment and surface improvements at Churchill Playing Fields.

As part of the consultation process Greater Manchester Ecology Unit confirmed: “Deer are not protected under wildlife law, are not a priority or notable species and range over relatively wide areas so would simply move on to another area if disturbed.

“However, they are protected under mammal welfare laws from unnecessary suffering.

“So, if one became trapped or hurt as a result of the development or had dependent young not capable of travelling the developer should contact the RSPCA for further advice.”

The Shaw Hall Bank Road site, adjacent to the Huddersfield Road canal, and surrounds have long been home to the secretive animals, thought to be roe deer.

But their cover has been ripped up in the past month, causing widespread condemnation.

Commenting on the 25-second clip Gail Holland wrote on Facebook: “This is awful.”

Lisa Smirk posted: “This is heart-breaking and wrong on every level. When is this madness going to stop? Is it when they have destroyed all our green spaces and natural habitats?”

However, Kenneth Mortin said: “We need houses.”

The Independent spoke to one resident who told us: “That poor little deer has been back a few times. It was born behind my back fence.

“We have photos of its mum when she was pregnant and then she brought her babies to see us.

“I rang the RSPCA when the diggers were on site and it was running around frantically.

“But they more or less said unless the deer is hurt or injured they won’t do anything about it.”

A spokesperson for Wiggetts said: “While we understand the sensitivity surrounding the development at Shaw Hall Bank Road, within the Planning Process our team liaised with the Local Planning Department and produced all the necessary ecology reports and surveys for review.

“In addition, we consulted with the relevant authorities and took on board all the comments raised and addressed the recommendations as necessary.

“As a result, planning has been granted with the inclusion of ecological matters.”

An expert from the Deer Society said: “As soon as deer reach a threshold of disturbance they will be displaced and find somewhere quieter which is better for them.

“Sadly, for the residents they won’t see the deer once the habitat has gone.”

OMBC confirmed tree protection orders are overridden by planning approval. However, an official has stated a “new tree specific order’ will be implemented on six remaining trees – two having been felled because of ash dieback disease.

He added four replacements will be planted to make up for the loss.

A RSPCA spokesperson said: “We have not been contacted about this particular development.

However we understand local residents have concerns about roe deer on the site.

“Deer are incredibly difficult to catch and suffer high levels of stress and capture myopathy which can be fatal, therefore we would not attempt to catch and remove the deer.

“Roe deer have adapted to similar developments elsewhere in the country and are becoming more urbanised as man-made areas expand.”

An OMBC spokesperson said: “This development was given planning permission in accordance with government planning guidelines.

“The developers have started preliminary work, including carrying out ground investigations and the removal of trees as agreed with the council’s arborist.

“When considering the application the GMEU was consulted, who recommended conditions be attached to protect nesting birds and an informative about what to do in the event badgers are found.

“But there were no specific recommendations regarding deer as their potential presence was not regarded as a significant issue.

“Oldham Council takes animal welfare seriously. In the past we have been awarded a number of accolades, including from the RSPCA. At this stage we have not received any official complaints regarding deer.”

One Reply to “Deerly beloved: Creature discomfort on new homes site”

  1. I notice that someone commented “We need houses”, and while that’s true, it does seem that yet again it’s four-bedroom detached houses/ executive homes that are being built, not “affordable homes”. I imagine that’s what will be built on the old Saddleworth School site too. As for the green belt, the trees, the deer- too bad seems to be the reply…

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