A £25,000-A-YEAR environmental post ‘killed off because of austerity’ will not be reinstated.

Warrington Borough Council (WBC) got rid of its natural environment officer in September 2014 as part of a restructure.

At the time of the redundancy, the basic pay for the role totalled £24,892.

Warrington Nature Conservation Forum (WNCF), whose members include ecologists and wildlife specialists, has called for the position to be reinstated.

Ornithologist Brian Martin said: “We are renewing our call for WBC to reinstate the role of a natural environment officer, which was killed off five years ago because of austerity.

“This is a very significant role which has been contracted out to Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) based in Tameside.

“Warrington needs to reinstate the role in-house, that is so important because of the sheer amount of planning applications due to be processed.

“There have been too many examples of developers destroying creature’s habitat like badger sets, small thickets or ponds.”

But the council says there is ‘no intention’ to reinstate the post.

A spokesman added that the authority’s development management service has an agreement in place with GMEU, which provides ecology advice for planning applications and pre-application enquiries.

He added: “We remain committed to ensuring strong protection to areas which provide wildlife habitat.

“We ensure that ecology matters are considered and properly assessed for all development proposals, accounting for the relevant legislation and planning policies, alongside the expert advice from GMEU.”

Prior to the consultation on the draft local plan closing, WNCF asked residents to consider whether wildlife in the town is under threat due to the proposals set out in the controversial 20-year document.

The draft sets out the legal planning framework for the borough’s development over the next two decades.

It aims to deliver 18,900 new homes – or 945 a year – up until 2037.

However, a 10 per cent ‘flexibility uplift’ has also been factored in, to allow for ‘market choice’, as well as for the event where sites are not delivered.

Therefore, the document sets out proposals for 20,790 homes.

There is an urban capacity for 13,726 homes, so green belt land has been earmarked for 7,064 homes.