Keeping Everton in Our City

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 Post subject: now even nature's at it....
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Water voles could delay Everton FC stadium move
Jul 18 2009

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A COLONY of water voles is threatening Everton FC and Tesco’s £400m to move to Kirkby.

Knowsley Council approved planning permission in March that would allow Tesco to move Kirkby Brook to make way for Everton’s 50,000 seater stadium.

But the waterway is home to a group of cute and highly-protected water voles.

Planners heard that work on realigning the brook, and relocating the voles, would have to be carried out by September as it is illegal to disturb a hibernating vole.

But the ECHO has learned the diversion work will now not take place until the Secretary of State has made a decision on the Blues’ ambitious plans.

It seems the project managers are unwilling to start an expensive piece of work while the result of the public inquiry hangs in the balance.

Kate McLean, senior planning consultant at Development Planning Partnership, who are managing the project on behalf of Tesco, said: "We’re waiting for the wider Secretary of State’s decision to tie in with the larger scheme.

"It’s to do with making cost savings.

"We’re now going to encourage them (the voles) to move downstream, rather than moving their habitat." Now the developers face a race against time to get each one of the Water Rats to move home before they begin hibernating.

This would allow work on the project to start immediately if approved by the inquiry.

For the project to begin immediately

Lisa Harris, who is deputy project manager at Knowsley Council, yesterday said: "If any have hibernated in the area, then work will have to wait until they have woken up.

"But there will be lots of checks to make sure they’ve all gone."

She said the council was confident the voles would move out.

A lining will be laid on the stream bed and hoardings will be put up to prevent any of the voles from escaping into the neighbouring shrubbery.

Environment Agency officers and the council’s health and safety officers will be charged with checking for any strays which stick their paws in and refuse to move.

Everton has already admitted privately that their hopes to move into a new stadium in 2011 have been dashed by the length of time the Department for Communities indicated it will take to make a final deci- sion on Destination Kirkby.

It is unlikely that putting back work on the brook until November will significantly alter their new move in date of 2012.

But a rogue rodent could delay work until spring next year, possibly delaying the project until after 2012still further.

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