Press release from independent ecologists.
A dead shrew has been discovered at a HS2 development site following apparent breaches of their legally-binding organisational licence for great crested newts.
Under the licence, pitfall traps to catch the protected newts had been installed at Waddesdon Greenway, some 2km north-west of Aylesbury. These traps catch newts which are then translocated to new homes before development. However, newts are very likely to die if trapped in cold weather and so the license requires traps to be closed with a tight-fitting lid, in order to prevent such deaths and also the accidental trapping and killing of other species.
Moreover, even when traps are open in warmer weather, the licence issued by Natural England requires climbable escape routes typically known as ‘mammal ladders’ to allow any trapped small mammals species an escape route in order to minimise the risk of mortality.
Photos taken at the scene over the last few days show that these have not been provided, and that this led to the death of at least one shrew at the site.
All shrews are protected under Schedule 6 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act from capture or killing and causing it to freeze to death may also constitute an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The shrew was discovered by a local resident who, during daily exercise, discovered the pitfall traps full of rubbish. Suspecting that they were not being checked per the requirements of the license, she returned to find the same rubbish remaining, and after several similar visits additionally discovered the dead shrew.
Rob Mileto, a specialist in protected species with 30 years experience in ecological consultancy said: “I would expect a Government backed National Infrastructure Project like HS2 to follow legislation and industry best practice to the letter. Instead, all I am seeing is a disregard for wildlife law, Government guidance and even any transparency on the wildlife surveys they have done.”
Rob has raised the likely breach of condition and later the death of the shrew with Natural England, who are investigating.
He added: “I trust Natural England will take their regulatory responsibilities in this matter very seriously and make public their findings. If HS2 are found to be in breach of their organisational licence, then the appropriate action would be to revoke that licence – it’s akin to being found guilty of drink-driving, you lose your driving licence.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Photos of the dead shrew in the pitfall trap and photos of other traps filled with litter can be downloaded here.
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Andrew Cedarwood, Environmental campaigner, Tel: 07484 154605, email@example.com
Rob Mileto, Ecological Consultant, Tel: 07929037409, firstname.lastname@example.org