Invasive species have cost UK at least £5bn since 1970s, study reveals

Photo by Denis Fournier under Creative commons

The Guardian reports ecosystem-altering plants and animals that wipe out native wildlife, often introduced by humans, have cost the country at least £122m a year on average since 1976, causing structural damage to buildings, clogging waterways and ruining crops. These include the grey squirrel, Japanese knotweed and the European rabbit. 

Laws of nature: could UK rivers be given the same rights as people?

The Guardian reports the River Frome murmurs and babbles through the woods and fields of north Somerset. It is popular with anglers and wild swimmers but is often polluted with a cocktail of agricultural runoff, leading to frequent complaints from the public.

In 2018, Frome Town Council tried to pass a bylaw giving part of the river and the adjacent Rodden meadow the status of a person in law. This would establish their right to exist, flourish and thrive, and for the river to flow freely and have a natural water cycle, as well as ensuring timely and effective restoration if they were damaged.

The council and a local charity, Friends of the River Frome, were to be made joint guardians of the river and meadow, tasked with balancing their interests with the health and safety of local people. 

London Resort: Theme park firm disputes Kent site’s wildlife status

BBC reports developers hoping to build a £2.5bn theme park on a wildlife haven have challenged the site’s protected status. London Resort claims Natural England is attempting to “frustrate” its plans to build on Swanscombe Peninsula in Kent.

The area was protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), due to its “enormous value as a green space and refuge” for people and wildlife. Conservationists said the objection was a “transparent” attempt to undermine the ecological importance of the site.

Endangered British hedgehogs need greater legal protection to stop the public taking them from back gardens and selling them as pets online, MP warns

Hedgehog photo by Gillian Thomas under creative commons

The Daily Mail reports British hedgehogs need legal protection from being plucked from back gardens and being sold for hundreds of pounds, the government has heard this week. MPs have argued in parliament that the British hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is facing an increasing problem of being traded as pets.

The species is known as one of the UK’s best loved mammals and a ‘gardener’s friend’, but the creatures have seen a whopping 97 per cent decline since 1950.

Flying ants could swarm Euro 2020 final at Wembley

The Observer reports swarms of flying ants could swarm to Wembley and cloud the Euro 2020 final, after a radar detected millions of bugs over London and the south-east on Friday. As luck has it, the final between England and Italy is taking place on Sunday, which could fall into the mating period of ants, which go on a “nuptial flight” in huge numbers between June and September.

Although the Met Office has forecast “promising” weather for Sunday, it also picked up on the phenomenon potentially coinciding with the fixture and becoming a nuisance for buzzing players and fans.

Ministry of Defence under fire for ‘inventing rules’ to sell wildlife haven

The Guardian reports the Middlewick Ranges are an ecological marvel by the standards of 21st-century Britain. The army firing range near Colchester, Essex, has been untouched by a plough for nearly 200 years, allowing skylarks and nightingales to feast on the threatened invertebrates and insects that thrive in the rare acid grassland.

Yet a plan to sell off the ranges to build more than 1,000 homes has prompted accusations from campaigners that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has rewritten environmental protection rules to suit its case.