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Shaun Ellis campaigns to stop Combe Martin wolves from being put down

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

BOND: The wolves at the Newberry Farm Wolf Centre may have to be put down following a decision by the council. Pictured above are Kim Jennings and Shaun Ellis from the centre. Picture: Rob TIbbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20121218C-002_C

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A CAMPAIGN to save more than a dozen wolves in Combe Martin from being put down has gained thousands of supporters.

The Wolf Centre was set up at Newberry Farm 18 months ago by Shaun Ellis, 48, who is passionate about helping people learn about the ways of the wolf.

But North Devon Council has recently refused a retrospective planning application for the site, meaning Shaun's wolves may be left without a home and ultimately needing to be put down.

Shaun has 27 years' experience working with wolves and has even lived with them, as one of the pack, for two and a half years.

The wolves he looks after now were originally located at Combe Martin Wildlife Park but were moved to Newberry Farm in June 2011.

"We wanted slightly different things," Shaun said of the move. "The wildlife park had to be a bit more commercial and we wanted to go down the educational route."

North Devon Council had said no planning permission was required for the Newberry Farm site.

But, following a complaint from a neighbour, the council said a retrospective planning application was needed to cover changes to the use of land.

An application was therefore given to the council in April of this year, but was turned down at the end of October.

Shaun said the wolves are like family to him and that to have to put them down would ruin his life.

"It would be unliveable afterwards," he said. "We would never find a home for them. We tried before and you just cannot do it.

"We would love to give local people the opportunity to come up, book a day with us and find out what we are doing. When you see what they are about I think people will have a completely different outlook."

"We want to resolve this, but unless they contact us we cannot allay their fears, so we do hope they come forward.

"We want a damn good reason for them to turn this down.

"I do not see sense in all the arguments they put forward."

The council stated three reasons why the planning application had been turned down.

The first was that the site lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and does not preserve or enhance the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

Secondly, the council believes the site will cause noise nuisance to surrounding houses.

It was also stated in the decision notice that the volume of traffic entering the site will increase, causing a potential danger.

Dawn Fletcher, who deals with the centre's marketing, said they submitted the application in April but had heard nothing by the end of September.

She said: "It was hanging over us.

"We chased it up in early October. We heard towards the end of October that it had been refused. The decision was made by one planning officer."

Shaun said he now has one of two options. One would be to appeal the council's refusal and the second would be to submit a new planning application.

To support Shaun's campaign to save the centre visit www.thewolfcentre.co.uk/page/save-the-centre- campaign/sign-our-petition

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