A £250,000 grant to investigate the impact of a new building in an area of land that supports three protected bird species has been agreed.

Surrey Heath Borough Council, along with Hart District Council and Rushmoor Borough Council, are to jointly receive £250,000 to assess the consequences of a major development in the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).

This area of land is home to a number of protected bird species - the Nightjar, the Woodlark, and the Dartford Warbler.

The councils wish to jointly use this money to challenge planning constraints that are in place around the area as a result of its protected status.

Under rules put in place by Natural England, each council must find eight hectares of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) for every 1,000 new residents.

The councils say that as the population rises, the number of spaces in which they can create a SANG is dwindling fast, and is proving to be a cumbersome restraint on development.

The money is to be provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Cllr Alan McClafferty said: “Surrey Heath faces difficult issues around planning and housing development due to the SPAs and SSSIs that exist across the borough.

“We welcome the joint working project funding, which should be a positive step in making progress in this area.”

Cllr Martin Tennant, of Rushmoor Borough Council, said: “It’s absolutely essential that we start tackling the planning issues around SANGS because we are all running out of space and our borough needs to grow and prosper and build new homes for our children

“We’re pleased that the funding for the joint working project has come through, but we are under no illusions how tough it will be to come up with solutions for this thorny issue.”