Developers: We will leave space for bats
Plans to build 800 houses on the outskirts of Hamilton will take bat welfare into account, the developer says.
The proposed Amberfield development, southwest of the city, is situated on a 105-hectare plot in the Peacocke area.
Houses will include terraced, doublestorey dwellings to standalone houses on 700sqm sections.
But the plan has drawn concern from the Riverlea Protection Society, on the opposite side of the Waikato River, whose 118 signatories in a submission to the Hamilton City Council consents process say the native long-tailed bat will be put at risk.
Amberfield development spokesman Andrew Duncan said in a statement that great care is being taken to consider proposals that treat the natural, ecological, and cultural environment of the site carefully and appropriately.
‘‘We certainly appreciate the importance of the long-tailed bat population and have taken leadership on the matter by engaging several ecologists including a bat expert who have undertaken extensive survey work towards understanding how long-tailed bats are interacting with the site and determining key habitats both on-site and in the wider Hamilton-south area,’’ Duncan said.
The proposal will avoid effects on bat habitat outside of the development area including the Waikato River corridor and Hammond Park, he said.
Areas within the development area that cannot be avoided will be mitigated in line with the intent of the Hamilton District Plan.
‘‘We are committed to working together with the statutory agencies and other stakeholders to achieve beneficial ecological outcomes from the development.’’
A concern of the Riverlea Protection Society was the effects of new lighting on bat behaviour.
Duncan said new LED technology which prevents light-spill is being looked at.
A gully traversing the site would also be restored.
In fact, he said, work undertaken for the project has been recommended to Hamilton City Council and protection and restoration initiatives will be considered.
‘‘We strongly believe that the protection of natural habitats – like those of the longtailed bat – can go hand in hand with urban development needed to meet housing demand,’’ Duncan said.
‘‘Our team is currently working on a mitigation package that will complement the council’s work and will contribute to a matrix of restored areas for the benefit of not only long-tailed bats but also other native flora and fauna.’’
Public submissions to the consent application closed in September.
‘‘We are committed to working together with the statutory agencies and other stakeholders to achieve beneficial ecological outcomes from the development.’’ Amberfield development spokesman Andrew Duncan
The long-tailed bat, a nationally vulnerable species, inhabits Hamilton’s Hammond Park, over the river from the proposed development. The proposal for the Amberfield subdivision in Peacocke, south of Hamilton, spans about 105 hectares on the western bank of the Waikato River.