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Dorset twitchy after bird lovers put new HQ plans in doubt

Plans for a multi-million pound headquarters have been derailed by bird lovers.

Dorset Police’s plans for a new multi-million headquarters are in doubt after bird conservationists warned it will  be a danger to two rare species.

Concerns have been raised that the reflective glass being proposed for the new building could lead to bird strikes.

Dorset put in its planning application in November last year for a three storey complex on the existing site of its main base.

It featured more than 100 electric plug-in points for cars, break out spaces and eco-friendly heating systems.

The force argued the current buildings in Winfrith are no longer fit for purpose. They date back to the Cold War era when the force took over part of Hampshire’s boundary – and it is bomb-proof as a result.

But they cost more than £500,000-a-year to maintain and don’t meet modern standards for energy or IT.

It was all on track until Dorset Council put the proposals out to other local authorities for comment.

The design features glass windows that are the height of two floors and wrap round the building.

Wool Parish Council warned the new building’s location is next to the site that is home to colonies of house martins and swifts – and hundreds could die during migration by striking the glass windows.

It said: “Birds from these breeding colonies utilise space over the Frome water meadows and other insect rich areas such as the pasture and wet scrubland adjacent to the Police HQ.

“Bird species would be vulnerable to lethal impact into reflective surfaces.... it would appear that the vertical faces of this proposed building would have reflective surfaces...and without mitigation would pose a significant lethal threat to these birds.”

That warning triggered the conservation charity House Martin Conservation UK & Ireland to get involved because the local site is on its red list as endangered.

It said: “Comments ceased to be taken on 10/02/2022. Nevertheless, we will be appealing to Dorset Council.”

The project’s fate now rests with an unknown planning officer at Dorset Council who will decide what happens next under delegated powers.

Dorset told Police Oracle it remained confident that the project would stay on track.

Jo Mosely, Director of People and Support Services, said: “The new HQ building is being designed with sustainability in mind and we are working closely with the local planning authority following the submission of the planning application. We will follow any mitigating measures that they require to protect habitats.”

The parish council has played down the row.

“We just said ‘can you consider this as part of the design’. It was just a polite request,” said a spokesman.

They also sought to reassure Chief Constable Scott Chilton: “We hope we haven’t upset anybody. There are no locals with pitchforks about to storm Dorset Police HQ.”

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