THE EAST of Otley plan for a new road and 550 houses will devastate wildlife unless protective measures are built in from the start, according to campaigners.

Wildlife Friendly Otley expressed "grave disappointment" at the plans shown in a recently published consultation document. The group, which campaigns for Otley to be a wildlife friendly town, wants to see protective measures built into the plans from the beginning. It says the first stage consultation period, which expires on January 29, is being rushed and should be extended.

The group is urging Otley residents to use the short survey form on the website to voice their concerns that the development will permanently damage local wildlife unless more is done to lessen its impact.

“We urge people to make their voice heard on behalf of our wildlife which is one of Otley’s main assets and attractions.” said chairman Andrew McKeon. “The consultation leaflet and information on the website ignores the environmental protections for future developments that were agreed and voted for by Otley residents last year in the Otley Neighbourhood Plan.

“Vital wildlife habitats such as hedgerows, trees, copses and streams which are essential for hedgehogs, badgers, birds, small mammals, butterflies and pollinating insects will be lost or irreparably damaged by the new road and the huge amount of housing,” he added.

“There are practical things we can do to address the environmental impact of this development. First is to complete the survey. Second - write to Otley’s local councillors for Leeds and our local MP, Alex Sobel. Third is to use social media to give a voice to nature. Fourth - join one of the local wildlife or environmental groups.”

“We support provision of affordable housing in Otley and believe this can be delivered with minimal impact on wildlife if the development is carefully planned and delivered. What’s good for wildlife is good for people.”

Wildlife Friendly Otley regards the new road as a major issue which will destroy existing wildlife routes, form a barrier and cut off all wildlife such as hedgehogs to the east side of Otley unless the measures such as underpasses for wildlife and people are incorporated into plans at the outset when it will be cheaper. It says this would allow people and wildlife to move freely between Otley and the countryside.

Mr McKeon said:“This is an opportunity for the planners and developers to make the East of Otley scheme an excellent example of an environmentally friendly development which will enhance the quality of life for both residents and wildlife. But this opportunity will be lost along with the wildlife if we don’t fight for it.”

The consultation survey closes on Friday, January 29. Visit for more information.