Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 19:50 UK

Man guilty of destroying bat site

Denbigh Hospital
Bats were found hibernating in the roof at Denbigh Hospital

A planning consultant has been convicted of two charges of damaging or destroying the sites of protected bat species at a former hospital building.

Ayob Bhailok, 42, from Preston, Lancashire, had denied the charges relating to demolition work at the North Wales Hospital site in Denbigh.

He was given a six-month conditional discharge after a trial at Prestatyn Magistrates Court.

He was also ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

The charges related to the homes of both lesser horse-shoe bats and brown long-eared bats at the former hospital site, a Grade II listed building.

The two-day trial heard that Bhailok, a solicitor by profession, had been employed by the current owners of the former Denbigh Asylum site, Lancashire-based Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd.

In that role, the prosecution said he was responsible for driving forward plans to redevelop the 50-acre (20 hectare) grounds, which contain a number of listed buildings.

As part of those plans, and in agreement with Denbighshire County Council, work began to demolish the former Bryn Golau ward at the old hospital in October 2008.

There were no bad intentions - it is very regretted by all of us that this has happened, it is very regrettable
Ayob Bhailok, giving evidence in his defence

However, it emerged there were two protected species of bat living there - something that Bhailok had been aware of since a a survey was carried out in 2007.

The trial was told it was the defendant's responsibility to ensure work was carried out to re-house the bats, under the terms of a bat licence.

But that work was never carried out.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Bhailok claimed that he had taken a back seat in the development, and the planning responsibilities had been handed over to a number of professional consultants brought in by him and Freemont (Denbigh) Ltd.

'Diggers'

He said the issue of bats should have been picked up by these consultants, and that it was "mind boggling" that this had not happened, and that it had also not been identified by the county council.

He said: "There were no bad intentions. It is very regretted by all of us that this has happened, it is very regrettable."

Sean Larkin, defending, argued that his client was no more responsible for the destruction of the bat habitat than any of the other consultants, and even the council involved in the project.

"This is a case of somebody dropping the ball," said Mr Larkin.

District Judge Andrew Shaw said Bhailok was the person responsible for giving the final "green light" to diggers moving on to the grounds, and that created a direct link between the bat site destruction and the defendant.

Conditionally discharging Bhailok for six months, the judge said he accepted that this had been a complex planning issue, and that the actions of the defendant had not been wilful, rather it was down to "inexperience" in such large redevelopment projects.

Work to redevelop the hospital site has yet to recommence since the investigation into the case began in November 2008.



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SEE ALSO
Bat home destruction trial begins
28 Sep 09 |  Wales
Protest over hospital demolition
14 Nov 08 |  Wales

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