Wildlife fears shoot down Otterburn army training plans

A DECISION on an army bid for a shooting compound in Northumberland National Park has been put on hold.

4th Regiment, North East Gunners on a training exercise in Otterburn as they prepare for possible deployment to Afghanistan

A DECISION on an army bid for a shooting compound in Northumberland National Park has been put on hold.

The application is for a compound including three shooting house structures and a partial perimeter fence at Quickening Cote Battle Shooting Area on the Otterburn training range.

Park authorities said the Ministry of Defence had not supplied sufficient information to demonstrate there were no alternative locations for their operational requirements that would not have as negative an impact on biodiversity.

As a result, the national park’s development management committee deferred their decision on the application.

But the park authority has approved two applications by the Ministry of Defence to build two other training structures on the Otterburn range.

Construction of a compound with three shooting houses at Davyshiel Battle Shooting Area was granted conditionally until 2015 by authority officers under delegated powers. The same process was used to approve a hard standing parking area for up to 25 vehicles near Watty Bell’s Cairn on the range. Committee chairman Anthony Murray said: “We approved the shooting compound at Davyshiel because the application balanced landscape and biodiversity impact with the need for specific military training, and we consider that the temporary consent will mitigate the potential negative impacts on the landscape of the national park.

“In respect of Quickening Cote, we have deferred the application as members of the committee considered that insufficient information has been provided in the application to assess the potential impact on biodiversity, in particular, ground nesting birds.

“We look forward to receiving this additional information and making a decision on the application.”

Park authority chairman John Riddle said: “The Ministry of Defence and the authority have a good working relationship and co-operate closely to fulfil the nation’s requirements for both military training and conservation.

“We accept that to meet military training needs there has to be development on the training area and indeed have approved several applications this past year.

“Where there is a conflict, we always try to find workable compromises.”

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