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Conservationists Fear Threat to Wildlife in McDonald’s Drive-Through Plan

Published on: 19 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2024

Tice’s Meadow, Tongham. © Kyle Russell

By David Reading

Fast food chain McDonald’s has submitted plans to build a new 24-hour drive-through just off the Hog’s Back at Tongham.

The site falls within the Tongham Services on the junction of the A31 and A331 which already accommodates a number of food outlets including Leon, Subway and Starbucks.

Conservationists are strongly opposed to the proposals on the grounds that they will pose a significant threat to wildlife. The site is in the middle of the Tice’s Meadow and Tongham Ponds Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

Another view of the Site of Nature Conservation Importance. © Kyle Russell

Mark Elsoffer, secretary of the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group, said the nature site was a regionally important wildlife haven where over 200 bird species have been recorded.

He said the Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) had already been eroded by construction of the Tongham Services.

“Any further development could render this vital natural artery useless and materially harm the nature conservation interests of the SNCI,” Mr Elsoffer said.

He went on: “The proposed site is also wholly within land designated as countryside in the Guildford Borough Local Plan, which describes the area as ‘an important open gap between Ash and Tongham and the town of Aldershot’ and providing ‘a green corridor and tranquil setting with considerable biodiversity value’.

“The proposed restaurant will have a significant negative impact on many sensitive and protected habitats and species through increased disturbance, noise, visual impact, litter, odour, light pollution and air pollution. The developer’s planning application fails to properly address these concerns.”

He added: “The developer proposes to offset the damage they will cause by erecting some bird and bat nest boxes on land they own to the north of the site. Restoration of this land to an ecology rich area was a planning condition for development of Tongham Services. Three years after the services opened and it’s still not been completed. What hope do we have that the developer will keep to any new promises they make?”

The plans submitted to Guildford Borough Council include parking spaces for 45 cars. It is understood the restaurant would operate for 24 hours, seven days a week.

McDonald’s say the new drive-through will be good for the local economy in terms of job creation.

Today (November 20th), a spokesperson for McDonald’s said: “We know that there is strong demand for a new McDonald’s restaurant in the local area and we are pleased to be bringing forward plans for this site in Tongham. A new restaurant will bring around 120 new jobs to the local area and our plans include a protected ecological area for community use.”

A joint Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council project recently introduced road improvements to this area, which is a major road junction leading traffic to and from the Hog’s Back.

See: Road Works Begin to Improve Ash Traffic Hotspots

Members of the public wishing to make comments on the proposal can do so by visiting the GBC planning portal and searching for application 23/P/01831.


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Responses to Conservationists Fear Threat to Wildlife in McDonald’s Drive-Through Plan

  1. L Padgett Reply

    November 22, 2023 at 9:43 am

    No, no, no! There are plenty of MacDonald’s in the area. This is a nature reserve, the lights, rubbish and activity from people, pollution and noise will have a monumental affect to the local area and to the wildlife and migration of birds.
    Please do not allow this to happen.

  2. Mike Smith Reply

    November 23, 2023 at 9:40 am

    I’m not so much worried for the wildlife as for the humans who might eat the unhealthy edible substances sold by McDonald’s.

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