The Times reports a pioneering rewilding project which is a haven for endangered turtle doves and nightingales has won ministerial support for its campaign against plans for 3,500 homes which it says would be catastrophic for wildlife.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the environment minister, has condemned the proposed development near Knepp estate in West Sussex, which was heralded in the government’s 25-year environment plan in 2018 as a prime example of the kind of wildlife restoration it wanted to encourage.
Goldsmith said: “Knepp is an iconic project and probably the best known rewilding initiative in the country. What they have achieved has attracted international acclaim, and rightly so. It would be a tragedy to allow a major development to undo all that extraordinary work.”
The BBC reports three conservation charities have come together to object against plans for a theme park on a “nationally important” wildlife site in Kent. The London Resort is currently going through the planning application process and, if approved, work could start on Swanscombe’s marshes in 2022. Kent Wildlife Trust, Buglife and the RSPB want it to be declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Andy Martin, from London Resort, said it planned to “enhance” the habitat. If approved, the brownfield site would be transformed into the first major theme park to be built in Europe in nearly 30 years. The 535-acre site would have two theme parks, a water park, hotels, shopping centres and entertainment venues, and is ultimately expected to support 17,000 jobs.
The Guardian reports a building firm that carried out demolition work at a site known to be inhabited by bats has been handed a £600,000 fine, the largest ever issued by a court for a wildlife crime, according to police.
Bellway, the housebuilders, admitted damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place in Artillery Place, Greenwich, south-east London, in 2018, where soprano pipistrelle bats had been documented the previous year.
The BBC reports moving ancient woodlands cut down to make way for HS2 is a fundamentally flawed idea, leading ecologists say. The company behind the new rapid rail connection between London and the north of England is cutting down trees in the course of the construction. HS2 say the woods are not being destroyed because their soils are being “translocated” to other places.
The Daily Telegraph reports the Wildlife Trusts have called for a new ‘wildbelt’ designation that would allow land to be protected for nature. The Government has promised a radical shake-up of planning laws that it says will speed up development across the country by giving “automatic” permission to new homes and hospitals. But conservationists and rural groups fear a spread of low quality housing across the countryside which fails to protect wildlife or provide green spaces for everyone.
The Guardian reports the clearing of ancient woods for HS2 is to proceed this month after the high court refused an emergency injunction and judicial review of the government’s decision to proceed with the high-speed railway.
HS2’s felling of woodlands in spring when birds are nesting has been widely condemned by wildlife charities but the conservationist Chris Packham’s attempt to halt “enabling” works was rejected after the court decided there was “no real prospect of success” for a judicial review.
INEWS and THE TIMES report just days after a major report found two fifths of the UK’s plant and animal species are in decline, the wildlife presenter is spearheading a new campaign to boost nature. He wants to create a joined-up network of habitats that would give wildlife an opportunity to roam far more widely than they do at the moment.
This would allow numerous species that are often penned into small, isolated, areas with relatively little food and shelter to prosper by moving to more suitable habitats through a network of “wildlife corridors” or nature paths, linking one suitable territory to another.
The TELEGRAPH reports the RSPB has urged the government to ensure developers build bird boxes into new homes amid fears swift numbers are plummeting.
The small bird, whose distinctive wings make it look almost like an arrow in flight, nests in nooks and crannies in buildings after flying over 6,000 miles from Africa in the spring. They are one of the fastest birds in the world, able to reach up to 70mph and often not touching the ground for up to three years at a time. Numbers of the animal have dwindled to fewer than 90,000 pairs, down from 150,000 pairs two decades ago.
The Guardian reports some developers are reviewing their policies after protests from environmentalists. A grassroots uprising is forcing builders and councils to remove netting over trees and hedgerows installed to prevent birds nesting and hindering their developments.
Environmentalists have condemned the practice and say it has exploded in scale this spring. The use of netting to prevent birds nesting in hedgerows and trees allows developers to get around the law that prevents the removal and damage of birds nests, and avoid delays to development caused by the nesting season.