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A round up of the top stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


Monday 28 February

Charity labels new High Speed 2 consultation a train wreck - CPRE

Countryside champions, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have labelled the consultation process  for High Speed 2 announced today [Monday] as a complete train wreck.  The charity describes the consultation as a head-on collision between Government plans to develop national infrastructure and its proposals to give power back to people .

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner at CPRE, says: “The Government has been so focused on trying to catch up and overtake the French on High Speed Rail, that they have failed to ensure the public get their fair say.

Government statement on transfer of state-owned waterways into new waterways charity - British Waterways

The Government has today (Monday 28 February 2011) announced its preference for a phased transfer of state-owned waterways in England and Wales into the planned new waterway charity, with British Waterways’ canals and rivers moving in 2012 and the Environment Agency (EA) navigations moving in 2015. The decision is intended to ensure that sufficient funding can be found to enable the charity to take on the liabilities associated with the EA navigations from the start of the next Spending Review.

The decision is intended to ensure that sufficient funding can be found to enable the charity to take on the liabilities associated with the EA navigations from the start of the next Spending Review


New Zealand invader set to be banished from Loch Flemington - SNH

Work will begin this week (2 March) to remove a highly invasive water plant from a loch of international importance for its wildlife.

The ecology of Loch Flemington near Nairn is under threat from invasion by the non-native aquatic plant New Zealand Pigmyweed.

The loch is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and is an internationally important breeding site for Slavonian grebe and a range of other rare indigenous plants and animals. However, grebes have not bred there since 2001 and many of the loch's other inhabitants have suffered due to nutrient pollution and the non-native pigmyweed.


Tuesday 1 March

Embedding sustainability at the heart of Government - DEFRA

New ambitious plans to help build a stronger green government were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today (28/2/11).  

The Mainstreaming Sustainable Development package will guarantee that Government policies have been ‘sustainability-proofed’ – by making sure they help to deliver sustainable economic growth, improve our quality of life and protect our natural environment now and for future generations.

Browse the Sustainable Development in government website here.


Action to contain two serious tree diseases found in park in Scotland - Forestry Commisison Scotland

Forestry Commission Scotland is working with West Dunbartonshire Council to remove dying trees from Balloch Castle Country Park.

Lawson’s cypress trees, yew trees and rhododendron at the park have been found to be infected by three different organisms from the Phytophthora family of pathogens. The fungus-like organisms cause plant diseases and two of them are quarantine organisms requiring statutory action to control them.

Roddie Burgess, Head of the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service, said,

“We were alerted to this in 2010 and we’ve been working with West Dunbartonshire Council to limit the spread of the two quarantine organisms, Phytophthora lateralis and Phytophthora ramorum.

“We will be carrying on with our own surveys in the area, but we’re also asking all local residents who might have species of cypress, larch or rhododendron on their properties to check them carefully for signs of dying foliage or bleeding cankers on the stems, and to report suspicious symptoms to us.”


Ruddy duck numbers in the UK cut to 120 by cull - BBC News

A ruddy duckThe government says it is committed to the eradication of the ruddy duck in the UK

A cull of ruddy ducks in the UK has cut their numbers to just 120.

The government says about 4,400 of the birds were shot dead over the past five years.

Supporters of the cull, including the RSPB, say it is needed to protect other species from extinction. Opponents argue it is expensive and unnecessary.

The ruddy duck is originally from the United States, and came to the UK in the 1940s.

Experts say it has threatened the existence of the white-headed duck in Spain by interbreeding with it.

'Very effective'

Figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that 1,365 of the birds were killed in 2008, with the number falling to 717 in 2009, and 386 last year.

Duck shooters from the Food and Environment Research Agency killed the birds under licences issued by government officials.


Squirrels are £20 million menace to homeowners says report in The Telegraph

Squirrels have been blamed for causing more than £20 million of damage to homes in Britain, including gnawed roof beams and chewed wiring.

Heligan recipes: two grey squirrels are used for Xanthe's Squirrel with red wine and juniper recipe   

The animals are estimated to nest in up to 50,000 homes Photo: ALAMY


Pest controllers said householders should be “extra vigilant” over the next few weeks as the country’s female squirrels are about to give birth to litters of up to six babies a time.

Most insurance companies do not cover squirrel infestations. The animals are estimated to nest in up to 50,000 homes.

Squirrels normally take up residence in loft spaces and sheds over winter and can cause serious damage to properties.


Here today - here tomorrow?: Plantlife calls for action on next generation of plant invaders

Conservation charity Plantlife reveals the non-native plants most likely to be the next damaging invaders in our countryside in a new report launched today.

Most are on sale in garden and aquatics centres and are used in our gardens, ponds, aquaria and public spaces. Plantlife is calling for urgent action to be taken on plants assessed as having invasive potential should they escape ‘over the garden wall’, by conducting more detailed research to determine the level of threat they pose. For plants where the level of invasive threat is already evident, Plantlife is calling for better use of legislation to try and contain them.

The next invaders – the ‘ones to watch’

Plantlife’s new report ‘Here today, here tomorrow? Horizon scanning for invasive non-native plants’ (click here to download a copy) contains details of species that Plantlife believes are on the brink of becoming invasive in Britain but are not yet covered by legislation that could help to limit their spread. Invasive species already cause enormous problems to our native plants and wildlife, and cost the British economy around £1.7 billion every year.


Wednesday 2 March

 Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) has been awarded £8,653 from The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to go towards its ‘Surrey Harvest Mouse Project’

The appealing, but seldom seen, harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) is a UK BAP priority species, meaning it’s in need of vital help to stop its numbers declining even further.  Harvest mice remain one of the most under-studied small mammals in Britain, partly because their secretive behavior makes surveying for them very difficult.  The current conservation status of the harvest mouse in Surrey is unknown, as very little data has been collected.

With funding from PTES, SWT can now launch its 3 year ‘Surrey Harvest Mouse Project’, an intensive surveying project which will help determine the conservation status of the harvest mouse within Surrey and inform a strategy for safeguarding its future. More than 36 sites across the county will be examined - to obtain population estimates of the mouse and its habitat preferences, usually agricultural field margins and rough grassland, thick brambles and reed beds. 


Thursday 3 March

Hunt widens for 'killer shrimp' in Wales – BBC news

Special traps baited with cat food are being used in a bid to establish the extent of the spread of a "killer shrimp" in south Wales.

The alien invader has so far been found at Cardiff Bay and Eglwys Nunydd reservoir in Port Talbot.

Biologists say it can have a devastating impact on native species and could even lead to extinctions.

The nets will be deployed at other "high priority sites" across Wales.

The Dikerogammarus villosus, originally from the region around the Black and Caspian seas, has spread across western Europe over the past 10 years via waterways such as the Danube and Rhine Canal.

The only other confirmed population in the UK is at the Grafham Water reservoir in Cambridgeshire.

It is not known how it got there or to the two sites in south Wales.


The public loves the Lakes and Dales - it’s official! - CNP

Howgills from Low Branthwaite (Natural England/Simon Warner)

CNP is delighted by the findings of a public consultation on the possible extension of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, which shows clear public support for the proposals with at least 68% of all respondents supporting the designation of each of the five proposed extension areas as National Park. The consultation suggests that an overwhelming majority of people, including residents, support the principle of designation.

Natural England’s Board agreed on 2 March to proceed to the next stage of public consultation on possible extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.


 Scotland's wildlife laws – Scottish Government

The Scottish Parliament has given its backing to the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill which modernises laws, some of which are almost 200 years old, and improves protection for wildlife.

The main measures include:

  •  A new criminal vicarious liability offence to ensure that those who direct or turn a blind eye to bird persecution can be held to account
  •  Improvements that will enable Scotland to lead the way in adopting the internationally recognised approach to dealing with invasive non-native species
  • Changes to deer management and provision for competence amongst deer stalkers

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "This is a significant moment for one of our nation's greatest assets. Rural Scotland covers 95 per cent of our land area and contributes so much to our daily lives. It is our responsibility to look after this land in a sustainable manner. Some of the laws being updated by this Bill are almost 200 hundred years old and this legislation will take us into the future with a legal framework that is fit for purpose and tackles some of the most pressing issues facing our countryside today."


Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill - Scottish Wildlife Trust reaction.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is pleased that the Scottish Parliament has passed the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Bill. 

 Our Head of Policy, Tony King, said:  "We are particularly pleased by the introduction of vicarious liability to stop rogue landowners pinning the blame for wildlife crime on their staff and by the new and very welcome requirement on public bodies to report on their compliance or otherwise with their duty to further the conservation of biodiversity.” 


Biodiversity in Britain's landscapes - NERC

A team of scientists from the University of York has been commissioned to direct a UK-wide research programme examining the role biodiversity plays in the ecosystems provided by Britain's landscapes.

The six-year, £13m Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) programme is funded by the Natural Research Environment Council (NERC) and will draw in teams of researchers from across the country with expertise in fields ranging from biodiversity and soil ecology, to water management, economics and satellite technology.


Friday 4 March

Are birds of prey back? Writes Tom de Castella in BBC Magazine

Red kite Red kites are now a much more common sight

People are used to stories of conservational doom-and-gloom with fragile species threatened by creeping urbanisation, but recent reports suggest some birds of prey are booming in the UK. So why does the prospect of a soaring hawk or eagle leave some people worried?

Birds of prey are admired. Their powerful talons and soaring flight impresses. People relish the suspense that comes from watching them hover before making a kill.

Britain's biggest, the white-tailed (or sea) eagle - the fourth largest eagle in the world - has a wingspan of eight feet.



Police and National Park Rangers clamp down on illegal off-roading - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Rangers from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) have joined forces with North Yorkshire Police to try to reduce the damage to the sensitive landscape caused by illegal off-roading.

A series of joint patrols has been organised aimed at educating trail riders and 4x4 users about where they can and can not legally go – as well as taking action against illegal off-roaders and people using vehicles that are not roadworthy.

The vast majority of trail riders and 4x4 users who come to the National Park drive legally and responsibly. However, a small number of irresponsible users cause considerable problems and damage the reputation of all motor vehicle users.


CJS is not responsible for content of external sites.  Details believed correct but given without prejudice.

Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS. 

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