Onchan Local Plan:
Open Space and Nature Conservation
10.1 Onchan District has a significant amount of open space within its boundaries as most of the district comprises open countryside. Even within the built-up part of the district there are significant areas of open space which can be enjoyed either in the form of recreational facilities usable by the public or by green areas which, whilst sometimes in private ownership represent breaks in development which are visually appreciated by many or simply the few who live alongside. Areas of open space also have considerable value for nature conservation.
10.2 The main areas of open space within the built-up part of the district are as follows:-
- Onchan Park
- Howstrake Golf Course
- the coastline between Summerland and Sea Cliff Road
- the coastline between "Far End" and Sea Lion Rocks (although the Howstrake Holiday Camp site remains unimproved and visually intrusive)
- the open fields alongside Blackberry Lane
- Port Jack Glen
- Molly Quirk's Glen
- Groudle Glen
- play areas at Lakeside, Birch Hill and "the Rec" (School Road)
- the wetlands off Church Road
- the land behind 114-118 Royal Avenue
- the land between Lakeside and Groudle Glen (Area 6)
- the open fields between Government House and Heywood Park
- land opposite Ridgeway Road (Area 9)
- Faaie Chiondroghad (the village green in Church Road).
The last four areas have been dealt with previously in the local plan (see Section 4 - Residential) and already have specific policies applied to them. Also, a small part of the coastal zone has been identified as suitable for residential development (Area 12 - see paragraphs 4.23 and 4.53). The remainder are considered important elements of the local plan area and require specific policies applied to them to protect them from development.
10.3 In addition, the area which forms the rural backdrop to the village - Little Mill, Glen Dhoo, Ballachrink, Howstrake, Bibaloe Moar and Ballakilmartin are also just as important in terms of their need for protection from inappropriate development. Whilst some or most of these areas may warrant absolute protection from any development, others may justify some development due to the nature of the prevailing land use. For example, Glen Dhoo accommodates a successful camp site and further structures may be required to further this aim: similarly there are many farm holdings which delineate the boundary of the built-up area and some of these may require some development in order to remain viable or in the interests of good agricultural practice. In the case of agricultural need, the Department would not generally oppose proposals for new structures although these must not be detrimental to the amenities of the area, for example, in terms of visual impact, pollution of adjacent land or water courses or loss of wildlife habitat.
10.4 As well as being attractive in visual terms, much of the open space within the local plan area is valuable in terms of nature conservation.
10.5 The Government's general policy on nature conservation is set out in the Wildlife Act 1990. This Act empowers the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to designate Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI's), Areas of Special Protection for birds and Areas of Special Protection for animals and plants.
a. Species Protection.
10.6 The Wildlife Act 1990 places restrictions on the killing, taking, keeping and sale of wild birds and their eggs and of other animals and plants listed in the Schedules to the Act. In addition, the Isle of Man is signatory to the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe which seeks to protect habitats, including feeding grounds. Bat roost sites and sites which they use for shelter and protection are specifically protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act. In compliance with legislative requirements, consultation must be undertaken with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on all proposals to alter buildings and other sites which bats are known to use as roost sites. In this respect it is important to note that the Tromode Dam and associated area is possibly the most important site on the Island for bats and that all six of the species known to be on the Island have been recorded here which in itself is relatively rare.
10.7 The local plan will seek to protect sites containing plants specifically protected under Schedule 7 of the Wildlife Act. Within the local plan area there are likely to be orchids. In addition the following notable species of flora and fauna are present in the local plan area:
- the common frog
- a number of protected birds and
- the common lizard
b. Site Protection.
10.8 The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has undertaken an ecological habitat survey of the whole Island including the area covered in this local plan. The Phase I Habitat Survey undertaken 1991-4 produced a number of target notes for areas of ecological interest within the local plan area. There is also an area of ecological interest identified on the 1982 Development Plan at Groudle.
10.9 The following have been identified as areas of interest within the area:
- the coast
- the valley of the Groudle River
- the Ballacreetch area
- the River Glass area
- the Howstrake Golf course much of which is characterised by dry dwarf shrub heath and is the largest of such areas close to the Douglas/Onchan built up area
- the nature reserve at Lakeside Gardens (Curragh Kionedroghad)
- Tromode Mill Dam
- Sir George's Bridge
- Ennemona Plantation
- Injaign Plantation
- Slieu Lhost
- Clypse and Kerrowdhoo Reservoirs,
- the woodland at the Baldwin valley,
- heathland and bogland at Slieau Ree and Slieau Meayll,
- the habitat associated with the Ballacottier River and the Sulby River and its tributaries,
- wetland east of Ballaskelly (near Brandish Corner),
- semi-natural habitat associated with the Groudle River above the Clypse and Kerrowdhoo Reservoirs and
- the semi-natural habitat north of Ballakaighen.
It should be noted that Injaign and Ennemona plantations were originally intended by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as woodland grown for commercial purposes and certainly in the case of Injaign Plantation, is likely to be harvested at some time in the future. Ennemona Plantation has recently been replanted as broadleaved amenity woodland.
10.10 The Manx Wildlife Trust has convened a steering a group which comprises a number of conservation parties including Government Departments and which is developing a system of Wildlife Site designation. These are sites which may not qualify for designation under the Wildlife Act but nevertheless have an intrinsic ecological interest. It is hoped that landowners will continue to voluntarily conserve and sympathetically manage these once they are notified of the value of the site in their possession. The above sites are identified in the local plan as potential Wildlife Sites in addition to any statutory designation that any of the sites may have in the future.
10.11 In addition to the above it is important that "green" or "wildlife" corridors are afforded protection in the local plan. These are defined as linear features of semi-natural vegetation and provide an important resource for wildlife allowing the movement of flora and fauna and providing important educational and recreational resources.
c. Habitat Protection.
10.12 The Isle of Man is signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. This requires the Government to conserve wetlands generally and sites designated under the Convention ("Ramsar Sites") in particular. Whilst there are no wetlands of international importance in Onchan, there are wetlands of local importance and provision should be made for their protection. No development should be permitted in the vicinity of the Clypse or Kerrowdhoo Reservoirs with the exception of facilities associated with nature conservation such as bird hides, interpretation boards etc. No development will be permitted which would adversely affect the existing water courses within the area.
d. Encouraging Management.
10.13 Section 30 of the Wildlife Act 1990 permits the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to enter into management agreements for the purpose of conserving or enhancing the natural beauty of any land, conserving the flora or geological or physiographic features, or to promote its enjoyment by the public.
e. Woodland Protection.
10.14 The Tree Preservation Act 1993 makes provision for the protection of trees, facilitates the Registration of specific trees and makes it an offence to fell, uproot or intentionally destroy a tree without a licence granted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. There are groups of trees identified as Woodland in the 1982 Development Plan and this designation automatically affords Registered status to trees contained within each zone. This also applies to areas designated in the 1982 Development Plan Order as Low Density Housing in Parkland and Public Open Space. The areas of Woodland shown on the Scheme Order (Proposals Map) reflects the trees which are in existence at the time of the preparation of the map and may not coincide with those areas identified on the 1982 Development Plan Order. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry may in due course decide to Register some of those trees which are presently not Registered and any queries in respect of whether certain trees are protected should be directed to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Forestry Division.
10.16 CONSULTATION MUST BE UNDERTAKEN WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY ON ALL PROPOSALS TO ALTER BUILDINGS WITHIN THE LOCAL PLAN AREA WHICH BATS ARE KNOWN TO USE AS ROOST SITES.
10.17 IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE AREAS OF INTEREST FOR NATURE CONSERVATION WITHIN THE STUDY AREA, THERE WILL BE A GENERAL PRESUMPTION AGAINST ANY DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT OR EFFECT ON ANY AREA OF ECOLOGICAL INTEREST INCLUDING BOTH THOSE IDENTIFIED IN THIS DOCUMENT AND OTHERS WHICH MAY SUBSEQUENTLY BE IDENTIFIED AS OF INTEREST OR VALUE TO NATURE CONSERVATION.
10.18 NO DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED WHICH WOULD HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE "GREEN" AND "WILDLIFE" CORRIDORS THROUGHOUT THE STUDY AREA.
10.19 NO DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED WHICH WOULD HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON ANY OF THE WETLAND SITES IDENTIFIED IN THE LOCAL PLAN.
10.20 WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FELLING OF TREES PLANTED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES, THERE WILL BE A GENERAL PRESUMPTION AGAINST THE REMOVAL OF TREES WITHIN THE STUDY AREA WHERE THIS IS PROPOSED IN ORDER TO FACILITATE DEVELOPMENT.