A HAMPSHIRE school has joined forces with a construction company to assess the potential impact of a controversial new development on the local bird population.

Children from Milford on Sea Primary School have made a series of suggestions to Pennyfarthing Homes, which is building more than 40 homes on neighbouring farmland.

The partnership has resulted in extra bird boxes, extensive planting and a raft of other measures which aim to benefit wildlife.

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Matt Dukes, the company's managing director, said: “Pennyfarthing Homes is committed to its ecological obligations so our collaboration with the school was a fantastic opportunity.

"We put a lot of thought into landscaping and biodiversity and, interestingly, the children’s ideas closely aligned with Pennyfarthing’s soft landscaping and ecology enhancement plan.

"When the pupils explored the question of how the development might affect local wildlife and landscaping we were really pleased with their findings.

"They showed that with 42 new gardens and allotments replacing a single habitat, the number and types of flora and fauna could increase.

"The school has created a 'Construction Team' which attends weekly briefing meetings, undertakes regular site tours and reports back to the rest of the school."

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Head teacher Kate Crawford added: “We are committed to environmental learning and the children have been thinking about how to support biodiversity in the bird population.

"Being able to work with Pennyfarthing Homes and having the development on the doorstep as a focus for the project has been really exciting for the children."

The housing scheme was given the go-ahead last year following a public inquiry.

Pennyfarthing lodged an appeal after its original application was rejected by New Forest District Council, which had received more than 200 objections to the scheme.

Hampshire wildlife expert Chris Packham, who lives in the Forest, also spoke out against the proposal.

The 58-year-old Springwatch presenter said: “Every last space must be fought for because we are so close to the point of no return.

“It’s tempting to think that in the grand scheme of things some trees, bushes, bugs and birds in Milford don’t really matter, but this destruction is happening everywhere.”

At the public inquiry the council claimed the percentage of affordable housing and low-cost market housing was too low.

But planning inspector Alex Hutson approved the proposal, saying the applicant had shown it would provide an “acceptable” level of affordable housing.