WORK on a controversial housing estate is displacing wildlife in the area, it has been claimed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council planners approved the McDermott Homes development on land off Cranberry Lane in Darwen despite widespread opposition.

The development of 94 four-bedroom homes and 44 three-bedroom homes, was granted permission in September 2015 and received more than 100 letters of objection.

Darwen resident Craig Francis said the development was ‘causing great distress’ to wildlife after he spotted a deer ‘trapped’ in a fenced-off area.

He said: “The development is already having a huge environmental impact, driving deer and badgers from their habitat.

“The public access path and development land have now been fenced off and this is causing great distress to the local wildlife.

“I saw a deer become trapped in the fenced-off compound.

“There have also been reports of a further two deer with injuries.

“Is there anything that can be done to protect this land?

“It is so sad to see these animals suffering and being driven away from their natural homes.”

Campaigns officer for Lancashire Wildlife Trust Alan Wright said: “We keep a close eye on planning applications and where we feel there could be a risk to wildlife, we put in an objection.

“But there are always ways round these things and developers have many ways of getting round objections, such as bringing in independent surveyors to look at the wildlife.

“Deer aren’t really a problem, but if there are badgers living on the site then they won’t be able to build on the land.”

McDermott Homes were unable to comment but a habitat and protected species survey conducted by Pennine Ecological as part of the planning application stated there was evidence of at least one ‘active’ badger hole six metres from the boundary.

The survey said: “This hole is located approximately six metres from the woodland fence boundary on the top of the embankment. The sett entrance also appears to be well worn and ‘clean’ indicating recent use, taken in context with the other supporting evidence.

“No sign of badger activity was found on the site, however several paths in the grass are present created by walkers which could also be used by badgers although this cannot be supported by any field evidence.

“If badgers are using the site then at present activity levels are considered to be very low."

Mr Wright encouraged anyone with concerns about wildlife in the area to contact the trust directly.

He said: “We have had not direct contact with the developers of Cranberry Lane in Darwen because planning objections from Blackburn with Darwen are not sent directly to us.

“If anyone has any issues or concerns they can send us a summary and we will look into it.

“The only way we find out about issues is if people report them to us so we can look into them.

“We are facing a wave of tide of developments at the minute that we are trying to stay on top of them.

“If they are affecting wildlife we need to know about them.”