An expert on red squirrels says that Ynys Môn Council has a responsibility to protect the wildlife that live in Holyhead's Penrhos Coastal Park.

However, the "naked reality" is that the council has given planning permission to build 500 holidays chalets on the land in Penrhos, says Dr Craig Shuttleworth from Bangor University.

Land and Lakes is a company from Cumbria that was granted planning permission to build the holiday village, which threatens 27 acres of ancient woodland. Parts of it date back to 1700.

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Penrhos Coastal Park is teeming with a variety of species of flora, fauna and wildlife. Red squirrels, bats, badgers, foxes and insects live there, among various other native species.

Dr Shuttleworth said: "Anglesey Council's Planning Department has allowed this - it was their decision not to turn it down.

"I'm worried about what will become of the red squirrels. How is this going to affect them?”

But, he then said: "It is the responsibility of Anglesey Council to ensure that the plans are not detrimental to wildlife. Don't forget this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

The National Wales: 27 acres of woodland are set to be destroyed in order to make way for a holiday park at Penrhos on Ynys Môn. Photo: Save Penrhos27 acres of woodland are set to be destroyed in order to make way for a holiday park at Penrhos on Ynys Môn. Photo: Save Penrhos

The conservation expert revealed that he often sits amongst the ancient trees of Penrhos and thinks to himself: "Why did the Council allow this? It has caused such a row - there are many people who walk there who are very upset about this."

"A large number of red squirrels" live in the ancient woodland of Penrhos according to Dr Shuttleworth.

"Someone mentioned they wanted to move them to Cae Glas nearby, but there are squirrels living there already. So, that would mean even less of an area for them to live. Anglesey needs more trees, not fewer," he said. 

Red squirrels have already lost habitat on the island when trees were cut down in Newborough and Mynydd Bodafon, according to Dr Shuttleworth: "As a result the numbers of red squirrels in Newborough forest have decreased.

"Red squirrel habitats are currently under significant threat. And when the population declines, they are at risk of developing genetic problems, or dying out altogether."

READ MORE: First pine marten discovered on Ynys Môn

Many people do not realise that the habitat of the red squirrel is not protected, according to Dr Shuttleworth.

"You can get a license to cut down any tree. You just need to make sure you don't injure a red squirrel in doing so, or damage its nest.

"If you say, 'I can't find a nest', then you can fell it."

Although he has looked over the architectural plans, it is not clear how the development by Land and Lakes company will look when completed, said Dr Shuttleworth.

"It is not clear how many chalets will be built and how much of the forest will be lost. How much canopy will be left for the squirrels - they need enough canopy to move around."

Last December, The National reported that the Welsh Government would legislate to protect red squirrels habitats.

This followed the success of a petition which led to a debate in the Senedd and cross-party support for their protection.

Corgi Cymru has asked Ynys Môn Council how it intends to ensure that the wildlife of Penrhos Coastal Park is protected. An answer has not yet been forthcoming.

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