We are horrified to see netting going up across the countryside over hedges and trees in a bid by developers to circumnavigate planning laws and ride roughshod over concerns for valuable wildlife habitat.
Developers know it is an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built, so they have undertaken to ‘steal’ habitat away at the outset so that they can later destroy hedges and trees at will.
When a habitat is destroyed, the capacity of that landscape to support wildlife is reduced, so animal populations decline, and extinction becomes more likely. As if our wildlife didn’t have enough to deal with already!
As well as the obvious danger of entrapment to birds and removal of important nesting sites, the tightly pinned-down escape-proof plastic that cocoons a hedge will trap any hedgehogs that may have been hibernating or sleeping within when it was erected.
Furthermore, it damages the hedge, should permission not be granted later, and prevents mammals from accessing wider habitat by creating an impenetrable barrier.
This flies in the face of conservation work by charities like ours who are trying to bring wildlife back from the brink. Our Hedgehog Street project with People’s Trust for Endangered Species is about to release a guidance leaflet for developers on how to limit damage to hedgehog populations.
We also encourage people to join up valuable habitats and create new ones, but it sometimes feels like we are fighting a losing battle when mass scale destruction such as this is allowed.
There is an online petition against this method that has gathered over 150,000 signatures in a week and it is now being considered for debate in Parliament. If you become aware of this in your area, please find out which developer is responsible and let them and the local planning department know your concerns. We are forcing our dwindling wildlife into ever-decreasing pockets of barren land. Enough is enough. We must stand up for nature now before it’s too late.
Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society