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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Birds may block asylum plan
Proposed site for asylum centre at Throckmorton, Worcestershire
The Throckmorton site may have to be shelved
Controversial plans to build a centre for asylum seekers in the Worcestershire countryside could be in doubt after rare birds were found at the site.

Bird watchers have discovered two protected species of barn owl and skylark at the former RAF base near the village of Throckmorton.

The species are protected by European directives and could block the government's plans for the 750-bed centre.

Since they were announced, the plans have prompted protests from people living in the area, who fear local resources would be swamped by the influx of hundreds of people.

'Environmental problems'

The small village of just 150 people is already home to a massive foot and mouth burial pit and as a result, many feel the site is unsuitable for human habitation.

MP Peter Luff
Mp Peter Luff: "think again"

Peter Luff, Conservative MP for mid-Worcestershire, told the BBC's Midlands Today programme: "I think it is yet another example of the way in which the government just didn't think through the site selection.

"We all knew about the landfill site there and we all knew about the foot and mouth burial site.

"And those of us who knew the site well, knew about the problems from an environmental perspective.

Ecological survey

"This is just another very powerful reason of why the government should think again."

Earlier this month, the House of Lords voted against the government's proposals.

But it remains to be seen whether the discovery of the birds will make a difference.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) say the European directive only applies when the birds are nesting.

Local residents are hoping the results of an ecological survey will add weight to their fight against the government.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Satnam Rana
"The discovery could block Government plans for a 750-bed asylum centre on the site"

Click here to go to BBC Hereford and Worcester
See also:

31 Aug 02 | England
07 Jul 02 | England
19 May 02 | England
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