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Wolfman howls over plight of his pack – which faces being put down

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 22, 2012

  • Shaun and Dawn give a hug to some of the wolves at the centre in Combe Martin, Devon

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A man who lives alongside wolves as one of their pack fears they could all be put down – after a council refused planning permission for his new reserve.

Dedicated Shaun Ellis – known as ''The Wolfman" – lives with the wolves in their enclosure at the sanctuary in Combe Martin, Devon.

Shaun, 48, has spent 27 years working with the same pack of creatures – even spending nights sleeping in their enclosure with them.

He used to care for the wolves at Combe Martin Wildlife Park but 18 months ago rehomed them at his nearby Newberry Farm.

Officials at North Devon Council originally said no planning permission was required for changes to use to his land.

But following a complaint from a neighbour the council said a retrospective planning application was needed – which has now been declined.

Shaun said the decision could leave the animals homeless and fears with no home they would have to be put down.

He said: ''The wildlife park had to be a bit more commercial and we wanted to go down the educational route. We wanted slightly different things.

''The wolves are like family to me and to have to put them down would ruin my life. 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 a damn good reason for them to turn this down. I do not see sense in all the arguments they put forward."

An application was handed to the council in April but was turned down at the end of October.

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 also said the volume of traffic entering the site will increase, causing a potential danger.

Dawn Fletcher, who deals with the farm's marketing, said the decision was made by one planning officer.

Shaun said he now had one of two options – to appeal the council's refusal or submit a new planning application.

A spokeswoman for the council's planning team said: "All planning applications are determined in accordance with relevant development plan policies and government guidance.

"Following careful consideration of the retrospective application, which included consultation with statutory consultees, the decision was made to refuse it.

"As with all applications, the applicant has a right of appeal against the decision."

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

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