SIR David Attenborough has made fresh calls for “all those who love the natural world” to help fight plans to build homes next to a York nature reserve - which he says is once again under threat.

And a wildlife charity has launched a £15,000 fundraising campaign to defend the site.

Naturalist and broadcaster Sir David made renewed calls for Askham Bog to be protected from a scheme for 516 houses to be built next to the bog - on land off Moor Lane.

Developer Barwood Land submitted the planning application.

But it was unanimously rejected by City of York Council’s planning committee in July. The developer has appealed the decision.

Sir David said: “I am disappointed to hear that Askham Bog is again under threat.

“So much of the natural world is in peril and now, more than ever before, ancient places like Askham Bog, rich in biodiversity, must be protected.

“It is hugely valued by the people of York and by all naturalists and is part of our cultural and natural heritage. It is our collective responsibility to save it.

“I would urge all those who love the natural world to support Yorkshire Wildlife Trust who are fighting for it.”

But a spokesman for Barwood claimed the housing development would “offer protection to Askham Bog for future generations” and help address York’s housing crisis.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - the charity that manages the bog - says it needs to raise more than £15,000 in order to pay for scientific evidence and legal representation at a three-week planning inquiry due to take place next month.

And they are asking for people to back the campaign, with Rachael Bice, chief executive at the trust saying: “Askham Bog is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s first and oldest nature reserve, and our reason for being.

“We are asking the people of York to help us protect it. Our natural world is in serious danger, and the time has come for us to stop taking away from it, and start giving back instead.”

She called for a changes to the planning system - saying the current approach does not do enough to defend wildlife: “We want to raise the bar on how we create places for people, and the way we live with nature.

“We need a system that ensures nature’s protection, as this appeal shows that the current one is not strong enough.”

Sir David previously called the site “irreplaceable” and said the housing plans were comparable to building next to York Minster.

More than 7,600 people objected to the plans.

Jamie Gibbins, managing director of Barwood, said: “The proposed development of land at Moor Lane presents an excellent opportunity to help address York’s acute housing needs, in particular, in an environmentally sustainable way.

“We are confident that the proposals are technically robust and will offer protection to Askham Bog for future generations.”

He added that a “permanent and impenetrable barrier” would be created on the northern edge of the bog.

A three-week planning inquiry is set to start on November 12.

York Civic Trust confirmed it has made a £5,000 donation to the fundraising campaign, with a spokesman for the trust saying: “York Civic Trust is very pleased to donate £5,000 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s campaign to protect and preserve Askham Bog for the betterment of York residents and visitors alike.

“We have absolute confidence that the people of York will rise to the challenge, just as they did in their objection to the proposals, and help raise the remaining sum required by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to fight to save the bog.”

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