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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


Are you seeing Bullfinches in your garden? – BTO

Records from approximately 11,000 BTO Garden BirdWatchers indicate that Bullfinches are being seen in more gardens than ever this year! Bullfinches were seen by 19% of Garden BirdWatchers in April 2018, which is almost double the average (1995-2017) for this month. These figures follow on from a record high last winter, after a successful breeding season. Our Annual Results for 2017 show a 16% increase in the percentage of gardens reporting them compared to 2016. 

Access the report: See the full Garden BirdWatch Annual Results.


Road verges: 20% drop in diversity of wild flowers puts bees at risk as plant 'marauders' take over – Plantlife

  • 'Silent killer' air pollution and poor management have reduced floral richness by nearly 20% on verges
  • Plantlife reveals the 'dirty dozen' plant marauders that are increasingly rampant on road verges
  • Wildlife at risk: Red clover and lady's bedstraw - two particularly wildlife-friendly plants - are experiencing the most rapid decline on verges
  • BUT ALL IS NOT LOST; better management of our road verges could have spectacular results for wild flowers and wildlife, delivering an estimated 400 billion more blooms (or 6,000 flowers per person).

© Trevor DinesA marauding gang of invasive native plants including nettle and bramble are thriving on a diet of ‘junk food’ and taking over our once flower-rich road verges.

© Trevor Dines

Almost 90% of Britain’s wild flowers prefer lower-nutrient soil but they are being crowded out of the countryside as a result of air pollution creating unnaturally rich conditions, particularly on our road verges. Analysing trends since 1990, Plantlife has identified that our road verges are undergoing a dramatic change with plants that enjoy soil rich in nitrogen - much of it deposited from vehicle exhausts - spreading like wildfire including stinging nettle, bramble, rough meadow-grass, cow parsley, Yorkshire fog and creeping buttercup.The boom of these 'nitrogen guzzlers' is crowding out wild flowers that had found a haven on our road verges, including some of our rarest and most threatened species such as fen ragwort and wood calamint which are now clinging on at a handful of verges, their last remaining habitat. Victims of the changing verge include wild flowers like tufted vetch, bugle, tormentil, red clover, lady's bedstraw, white campion and greater knapweed. Air pollution combined with decades of poor management has seen the floral richness of our verges decline by nearly 20%.


Grants for Peatlands Restoration - defra

England's iconic peatlands will benefit from new government funds with an area the size of 10,000 football pitches to be restored to peat forming condition  

A new injection of £10m of government money will help restore more than 10,000 football pitches-worth of England’s iconic peatlands.

Peat bogs and fens are important habitats that provide food and shelter for wildlife, help with flood management, improve water quality and play a part in climate regulation. The new funding will help deliver commitments in the Government’s flagship 25 Year Environment Plan to create a new ambitious framework for peat restoration in England.

The total area of 6,580 hectares of upland and lowland peatlands that these grants will support work on is equivalent to 10,613 football pitches. The work will be delivered through four local partnership projects and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions making their way into the atmosphere by creating a natural store for carbon.

This vital work will abate and store an estimated 23,000 tonnes of carbon per year contributing to the UK’s climate change goals.  A panel of experts and Defra officials assessed the projects and awarded the funding based on the potential for carbon abatement.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: "Peatlands are an iconic aspect of the English landscape which are not only a haven for wildlife but also provide us with clean water and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out the Government’s commitment to improve peatlands and grant schemes such as this one will enable us to leave our environment better than we inherited it."

Defra has allocated a total of £10 million between the four projects.

  • The South West Peatlands Bid led by South West Water will be delivered through local partnerships including Exmoor Mires Partnership. The focus is on 1,680 ha of upland peat across Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor. To date very little of the peatland on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor has been restored. Exmoor has had over 1,900 ha of restoration to date.
  • Meres & Mosses Carbon Capture Project led by Shropshire Wildlife Trust aims to restore a mix of nine lowland and upland peatland sites covering 98 ha across the Meres & Mosses Natural Area.
  • Moor Carbon, led by the Peak District National Park Authority, will be working in the Peak District National Park, West Pennine Moors SSSI, and Rossendale Gap to restore over 2,000 hectares of blanket bog.
  • Peat restoration work at Mardale Photo Susie Lane via Cumbria Wildlife TrustThe North of England Peat Partnership led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will restore 394 ha of lowland raised bog and 1679 ha of blanket bog across 21 peatland sites in the north of England.


Peat restoration work at Mardale (Photo Susie Lane via Cumbria Wildlife Trust) 

From Buxton to the Borders – £7m Government grant allows new moorland conservation work to get underway - Cumbria Wildlife Trust  

A new injection of Government cash will help support the restoration of England’s iconic peatlands.

Two successful bids in the north will fund peatland conservation from the Peak District to the Scottish border. The vast project area spans almost 4,200 hectares; the same size as more than 6,700 football pitches. 


Call for public to help wildlife conservation by monitoring mammals with new app - Mammal Society

The Mammal Society, the only organisation dedicated to the study and conservation of all mammals in Britain and Ireland, launched its new Mammal Mapper app today (15/5).

Rabbit (image: Mammal Society)The charity wants members of the public to help record when and where they see mammals.

Most wild mammals, including rabbits and iconic species like hedgehogs and mountain hares, are very poorly monitored. This makes it difficult to know which regions or habitats are most important, or to detect changes in their population sizes.

The Mammal Mapper app is designed to record information on the location and number of animals spotted on walks or bicycle rides. 

Rabbit (image: Mammal Society)

Fiona Mathews, Chair of the Mammal Society and Professor of Environmental Biology at Sussex University explains “What we need people to do is to go on a walk or bike-ride (an evening outing of about 45 minutes is ideal) and record the mammals they see. By recording the route taken, the App will let us work out the densities of animals in different habitats. This is a unique feature of the Mammal Mapper app and will be hugely valuable for conservation. Previously we had no way of working out whether a sighting was submitted because an animal was common, or because people were excited to see it because it was rare. It was also difficult to pin down the precise habitat where the mammal was seen. New technology means that this is all now really easy on a smart-phone.”.

The app is free to download and available on android and iOS in app stores now. For more information and download from the Mammal Society website go to http://www.mammal.org.uk/volunteering/mammal-mapper/.

Our Surveys and Fieldwork section is a directory of surveys needing records and recorders, see what else you may be able to help with by browsing the directory here.  Organisations can add details free of charge, click here to submit your listing.


Scheme helping thousands of schoolchildren access nature up for award - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

A scheme that has given thousands of disadvantaged school children easy access to nature has been shortlisted for an award

chidren listening to teacher (image:WWT)WWT and HSBC’s ‘Inspiring Generations’ programme which aims to give pupils from poorer backgrounds the chance to experience nature has been nominated in the ‘Charity Partnership: Financial’ category at the Third Sectors Business Charity Awards.

(Image: WWT)

Free school visits, new school resources, and building the infrastructure around school visits are at the heart of the project, which has been a huge success over the past five years.

Over 68,000 pupils in the most deprived areas of the UK have benefitted from free school visits to WWT Wetland Centres since Inspiring Generations was launched. For many of these young people, this is a rare opportunity to learn about, and spend time in nature.

Lorna Fox, WWT’s Learning Advisor, welcomed the news. She said:"“This partnership has been so successful that we have been able to go above and beyond our original project objectives. We have produced research which is contributing to the national conversation about the value of outdoor learning, and we have made strides to improve school visits for children from deprived communities, as well as focusing on those with special educational needs and disabilities’


Understanding the role of large raptors in modified ecosystems - British Ornithologists Union blog  By Julien Terraube, University of Helsinki, Finland

A need for further research on the influence of large raptors on other predator species and their cascading effects at the ecosystem level

Linked paper: Top-down limitation of mesopredators by avian top predators: a call for research on cascading effects at the community and ecosystem scale. Terraube, J. & Bretagnolle, V. 2018. IBIS. DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12581


Tread softly: new guide for businesses working in important ecosystems - BirdLife International

A new handbook provides businesses with clear guidelines on how to avoid harming habitats when working in highly important areas for nature.

Most businesses want to minimise their impact on the natural world – but it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, the process has just got a whole lot easier with the release of a new roadmap for companies operating in some of the most biologically significant places on the planet. The report, Guidelines on Business and KBAs: Managing Risk to Biodiversity, was released by the Key Biodiversity Area Partnership*: an alliance of 12 of the world’s leading conservation organisations, including BirdLife International.

The guide, and its accompanying website, lays out 15 simple steps that businesses of any size or sector can adopt in order to leave as small a footprint as possible when working within Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs): sites that are deemed essential for the world’s species richness to continue. These areas may, for instance, contain a particularly staggering diversity of life, or house especially unique or threatened species.

"It is our hope that companies and governments will embed these guidelines into their environmental policies"

Read the, Guidelines on Business and KBAs: Managing Risk to Biodiversity report 


Green light for project which puts Cumbria’s bees on road to recovery – Cumbria Wildlife Trust

A ground breaking new project to boost the number of bumblebees and other wild pollinators in Cumbria, has been awarded development funding by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Highways England. Cumbria Local Nature Partnership has received development funding of £87,100*, made possible by National Lottery players, to progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.

‘Coastlines: The Cumbria Coast Pollinator Project’ will work with communities along Cumbria’s coast, in Workington, Whitehaven and Maryport, to restore and create pollinator havens in green spaces such as parks, schools and around housing estates. Local people will have the opportunity to volunteer, record bumblebees, participate in events, and learn how to make their gardens friendly for wild pollinators.

‘Coastlines’ will also take an innovative approach to managing verges on the main roads in west Cumbria such as the A66 and A595, for example changing grass-cutting and removal systems, to create habitats that provide food, shelter and nesting sites for bees and other pollinators. ‘Coastlines’ has been developed by the Cumbria Local Nature Partnership and will be delivered by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.


The wonderful world of wood pasture and parkland – PTES

Oak with large limb loss Moccas Park (image: PTES)Wood Pasture and and Parkland is one of our most important habitats but it is one we are only beginning to understand. As a part of the Wood Pasture and Parkland Network (WPPN) we have made a series of videos to shine a light on this forgotten habitat.

Oak with large limb loss Moccas Park (image: PTES)

The WPPN, is a new national network of organisations working together to promote the value of wood pasture and parkland habitat. This precious, ancient habitat shaped by generations of people working in harmony with nature is home to many endangered species from bats and birds to deadwood insects and fungi. The WPPN shines a spotlight on this forgotten part of our landscape.  The WPPN has produced a series of five short, accessible and informative videos (funded by The Woodland Trust) to raise awareness of this ecologically rich yet overlooked habitat. The videos introduce the ecological, historical and cultural aspects of wood pasture and parkland, and describe management advice for landowners to help maintain their key features.

Jeremy Dagley, the City of London Corporation’s Head of Conservation at Epping Forest (who also presents the videos) explains: “Wood pasture and parkland habitats combine big old trees and their full spreading crowns with open heaths and grasslands and all other ranges of vegetation in between. Wood pastures are especially rich in ancient and hollowing trees, each of which provides its own wealth of micro-habitats for hundreds of species. Many of these species are entirely dependent on these trees and the more open conditions in which they grow. Trees grow an entirely different shape and structure if they have grown in the open, rather than in dense woodland. This structure makes them better at supporting wildlife and often means that they live a lot longer. These trees often with the help of people harvesting their wood can live out their full life potential. This, in turn, means they provide more of the rare habitat of natural wood decay. The last stages of this decay process are now so uncommon that many of the species that rely on it are at risk of extinction.”


Colliery’s new life for people and nature – Lancashire Wildlife Trust

A former colliery is part of a plan to attract more people to green spaces in Salford.  Ashtons Field, in Little Hulton, has already been transformed from its industrial past to a green area for local people. 

Now those people will be encouraged to make the area more attractive for other visitors including wildlife.

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Land Trust are embarking on a new 10-year partnership to manage a series of green spaces in Salford for the benefit of communities, businesses and nature.

The Wildlife Trust has been appointed as the managing partner by the Land Trust, which owns the land, and will be responsible for the management these areas, including the eight hectare Ashton’s Field.

The former colliery has been transformed over many years to create a vibrant green haven within a predominantly built up urban area. Many local people use the site and it includes a section of the Linnyshaw Loopline, a walking and cycling route between Little Hulton and Walkden. There is a series of locks but no canal! The canal is underground and part of a 52 miles of a subterranean network in the area.

The Wildlife Trust will work with schools and community groups to increase the number of individuals benefitting from Ashtons Field. The Trust will support and engage more local people to play an active role in managing habitats at the site to help improve the wildlife value at the site whilst also bringing people together to gain new skills, ownership and confidence.


Red squirrel babies at Wildwood give boost to national rewilding project – BIAZA

(image: Wildwood)Red squirrel babies, born 3 weeks ago, are now venturing out of their nest boxes. After maturing at the Wildwood Trust park they will be transported to two sites in Wales and released into the wild as part of Wildwood's red squirrel conservation project aimed at preventing their nationwide extinction by re-introducing red squirrels back to the UK. After efforts to reintroduce pine martens over the last 3 years by the Vincent Wildlife Trust, it is now hoped the red squirrel can out compete invasive grey squirrels from North America to once again become part of lives, eventually being restored across Southern Britain.

(image: Wildwood)

The distribution of red squirrels has declined drastically in the last 60 years and they are now extinct in southern England except for a few on the Isle of Wight and two small islands in Poole Harbour. The main cause of this decline is competition with the introduced American grey squirrel. The grey squirrel is larger than the red and better able to survive harsh weather and periods of food shortage. It breeds more successfully and quickly out-competes the red squirrel for food.

Peter Smith of Wildwood Trust's said: "Red squirrels are one of the most beautiful animals in the U.K. and visitors can watch these playful animals over the summer until they have grown up enough to be released to the wild. If we can help restore areas of woodland to a native state, reintroduce animals like Pine Martens to control invasive grey squirrels, we might just be able to tip the balance back in the Red Squirrel's favour. Our eventual plan is to once again see them back across Southern Britain.”


New project: Connecting the Dragons - Cysylltu’r Dreigiau - Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are delighted to announce that our ‘Connecting the Dragons’ project (www.arc-trust.org/connecting-the-dragons) has been awarded National Lottery funding.  The grant will allow the project to bring together key partners including volunteer Amphibian and Reptile Groups, NGOs and local Wildlife Trusts, to protect and conserve some of our most vulnerable native species of amphibian and reptile including: great crested newts, adders, toads, and grass snakes.

  • The great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), a true water dragon! Dramatic declines and pond loss have led to European-level protection.
  • The adder (Vipera berus), which is Wales' only venomous snake species. Often misunderstood and sometimes persecuted.
  • The grass snake (Natrix natrix), a semi-aquatic predator of amphibians. Needs piles of compost or manure for laying its eggs.
  • The common toad (Bufo bufo), known for its impressive and precarious spring migrations to ponds. Suffers from traffic mortality and lack of habitat connectivity.

Tony Gent, CEO of Amphibian and Reptile Conservatin, commented, “We are delighted to have secured National Lottery funding for this important project, which will enable us to improve the conservation status of our declining herpetofauna species."

We are also thrilled to count on the support of Iolo Williams who says “It is essential to engage with our Welsh communities to create more ponds, increase wildlife monitoring efforts and improve the image of species like the adder. ARC has a proven track record of delivering ambitious landscape scale projects and exceeding targets.”


Northumberlandia wins Site of the Year at Land Trust Awards 2018 – The Land Trust

Northumberlandia was the big winner at the Land Trust’s 2018 annual awards, picking up the prestigious Site of the Year prize.

Based in Northumberland, ‘The Lady of the North’ was recognised for a year which has seen over 85,000 people visit the site and over 700 children attend school visits.

The Site of the Year award is the latest in a long list of awards won by Northumberlandia since it opened its doors to the general public in 2012.

Over the last 12 months alone the site has also been voted ‘Best Family Day Out’ at the Northumberland Tourism Awards as well as picking up the award for Best Parks Partnership at the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards.

Held in Newcastle, the Land Trust Awards 2018 was attended by many of the rangers and volunteers who look after sites on behalf of the charity.


Court confirms neonicotinoid ban was legal – Buglife

(image: Buglife)Today the EU Court of Justice confirmed that the 2013 European Commission decision to protect bees by introducing a ban on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides on flowering crops, was proper and legal.  Bayer and Syngenta had challenged the decisions, throwing everything at the cases and claiming that: the EC exceeded its remit; the economic cost to the pesticide industry should have been a key factor in the decision; the bee pesticide risk assessment document should not have been used (because all member states had not endorsed it); the science showed neonicotinoids were safe to bees; and that there were several other grounds.

(image: Buglife)

Buglife and a number of European NGOs stepped in to support the EC in the court room, intervening by sending experts and lawyers to participate in the cases held in February 2017.  On the other side of the room the pesticides companies were bolstered by legal teams from seed distributors and farmer’s unions.

The decisions of the court, rejects the pesticide companies’ claims and ensures that not only does the 2013 partial ban decision stand, but that in the future bees should only suffer ‘negligible’ exposure to harmful pesticides. 

The decision also means that the recent vote by EU Member States to introduce a more comprehensive ban on the three neonicotinoid seed treatments, should also result in a legally robust ban.


Climate-threatened animals unable to relocate – University of Exeter

Many of the European mammals whose habitat is being destroyed by climate change are not able to find new places to live elsewhere.

30 of the 62 mammal species in the University of Exeter study will have their habitat substantially affected by climate change, but don’t have the traits that could allow them to colonise a new habitat somewhere else in Europe.

These included at-risk species such as the wolverine (classified as “vulnerable”in Europe), and others not classified as under threat, such as the Eurasian elk, the Iberian wild goat and the Pyrenean chamois.

Most current assessments do not take account of climate change and species’ ability to react, and the researchers say this means many species may be at greater risk than their official status shows.

“Some species that will need to move long distances due to climate change are simply not going to be able to,” said senior author Dr Regan Early, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“Unfortunately, many of the species most at risk from climate change are also will have the most difficulty in colonising new areas.”

The researchers studied two sets of characteristics to see how well each species could relocate to the places where climate will be suitable in the future.

One important characteristic is whether the animals are “generalists” that can live in many kinds of habitats and eat a wide variety foods.

The other important characteristic was the animal’s reproductive strategy – species that breed young and have many offspring have a better chance of establishing themselves in a new area.

However, the complexities of climate change mean that some species – even those that could move relatively long distances – will struggle to move because possible new habitats are just too far from current ones.

Access the paper: Lisbeth Morrison  Alba Estrada  Regan Early Species traits suggest European mammals facing the greatest climate change are also least able to colonize new locations

Diversity and Distributions https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12769


High risk of deer on roads in May and June – Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is warning motorists to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on the road, especially in May and June.

Vehicle accidents involving deer peak at this time of year as young deer disperse to look for their own territories. To help reduce the risk of accidents SNH has arranged with Transport Scotland for warning messages on variable messaging signs on high-risk trunk roads across Scotland from Monday 21 May to Monday 11 June.

The VMS messages are targeted on roads with higher rates of deer-vehicle collisions, covering the Central Belt around Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as around Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and areas within Perth and Kinross. The signs display the warning message: High Risk of Deer on the Road.

The highest number of collisions occur in early evening through to late at night, with a slightly lower peak from 6 am to 9 am. The VMS campaign ensures that the warning messages are used during these times.

The most recent deer-vehicle collisions research shows there are up to 9,000 collisions between motor vehicles and deer every year in Scotland, with on average of 65 of these likely to result in human injuries. Across the UK, it’s estimated there are between 42,000 and 74,000 deer-vehicle related accidents a year, resulting in 400 to 700 human injuries and about 15 deaths.


Could our obsession with mobile technology destroy wildlife? - Buglife

A scientific review of the impacts of electromagnetic radiation launched today reveals our limited understanding about how changes we are making to the environment may be damaging wildlife.  Pollution levels have been rapidly rising, and plans for saturating coverage of wi-fi and 5G will push levels higher still.  Despite concerning evidence that such radiation could harm plants, insects, birds and other species, there is very little work underway to understand the impacts or to apply even basic pollution limits. 

Following a proposal by Buglife a review of the impacts of electromagnetic radiation on wildlife was undertaken by EKLIPSE, an EU funded mechanism that considers policy relevant knowledge relating to human interactions with biodiversity and ecosystems.   

The review found evidence that electromagnetic wireless signals, including from powerlines, radar, TV/radio broadcasting, Wi-Fi and 2G/3G/4G communications pose a credible threat to wildlife.  While surprisingly few studies have been published, from the 97 useable papers the scientists highlighted electro-magnetic radiation as a potential risk to bird and insect orientation and movement, and to plant metabolic health.  Serious impacts on the environment could not be ruled out. 

The authors of the EKLIPSE review conclude that there is “an urgent need to strengthen the scientific basis of the knowledge on EMR and their potential impacts on wildlife. In particular, there is a need to base future research on sound, high-quality, replicable experiments so that credible, transparent and easily accessible evidence can inform society and policy-makers to make decisions and frame their policies.”


Scottish Natural Heritage to transfer land to South Uist community - Scottish Natural Heritage

A proposal from Scottish Natural Heritage for a South Uist community group to establish a new Nature Reserve within an active crofting estate has been approved by the Scottish Government.

Druidibeg (image: Lorne Gill / SNH)Druidibeg (image: Lorne Gill / SNH)

With 1,100 ha of land at Loch Druidibeg, South Uist brought back into community ownership, local group Stòras Uibhist, in partnership with RSPB Scotland, plan for the site to include visitor facilities; habitat, goose and deer management; enhanced drainage and water quality and improved access to the loch.

David Maclennan, Area Manager for Outer Hebrides and Argyll said: “We have been working closely with Stòras Uibhist and RSPB Scotland on this proposal for some time, and we are delighted approval is now in place to proceed with the transfer. As well as creating an opportunity for a new Nature Reserve in South Uist, this transfer is making a significant contribution to meeting the Scottish Government’s target of having 1 million acres of land in community ownership by 2020.”

Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would like to congratulate Stòras Uibhist who are one of the first community groups to have a loch transferred into their ownership.

“The transfer provides a unique opportunity for the community trust, working in partnership with RSPB Scotland, to showcase its commitment and vision for the Loch and surrounding area. 


The Proportion of Scotland's Protected Sites in Favourable and recovering Condition 2018 - Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage has released the latest figures tracking the proportion of Scottish natural features in favourable or recovering condition.

The main findings show that 79.7% of Scotland’s natural features on protected nature sites are either in or recovering towards a favourable condition. This figure represents a 3.7 percentage point increase since the current protocols were established in 2007, despite a 0.6 percentage point decrease since last year.

The report draws on annual monitoring of the condition natural features carried out by SNH and includes 5,295 natural feature assessments from across Scotland, divided into three categories: habitats (79.3% in favourable condition), species (74.6%) and earth sciences, which includes geographical outcrops and landforms, fossil beds, and caves (97.9%).

Overall, the condition of 72 features has improved to favourable or recovering condition. This demonstrates effective targeted remedial management by SNH, its partners, and private landowners at certain heath, grasslands, and upland feature types, including work to restore upland habitats at Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. 

Access the full statistical publication here.


CPRE call fracking announcement ‘outright assault on local communities’ - CPRE

CPRE have condemned Thursday's (17/5)  joint announcement from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government which proposes to streamline the process for fracking applications.

These plans pose huge environmental risks to our landscapes and threaten the tranquillity of the countryside. On top of this, the ministerial statement also sets out plans for fracking to be considered as ‘permitted development’ and as Nationally Significant Infrastructure, which would diminish the abilities of communities to influence local proposals.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said:

‘This announcement signals an outright assault on local communities’ ability to exercise their democratic rights in influencing fracking applications. It reads like a wish list from the fracking companies themselves. The government may want to provide “sweeteners” for communities affected, but nothing will change the fact that this will be a bitter pill to swallow.

‘Simplifying the shale gas application and exploration process will have disastrous effects for the health and tranquillity of our countryside, landscapes and environment. Our countryside is the breathing space for us all - it must not become an industrial testing ground for a fracking industry that has no environmental, economic or social licence.’

A consultation will be held on fracking being considered as permitted development and as Nationally Significant Infrastructure. CPRE look forward to responding with the aim of protecting the rights of local people and preventing fracking from destroying our beloved countryside. 

Read the Energy Policy: Written statement by Greg Clark ( Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) here. 


Natural England sets out licence charges proposal - CIEEM

Following the consultation earlier this year on charging for licences, Natural England has responded to the consultation and set out their proposed pricing structure.
Mark Lang CEcol CEnv MCIEEM, a member of CIEEM's England Policy Group and Associate Technical Director – Ecology at the consultancy Arcadis, commented: "Arcadis do have some minor concerns regards the proposals from Natural England to charge for protected species licence returns. As a large commercial consultancy the proposed pricing structure seems reasonable and is unlikely to cause us a significant problem, and we welcome the exemptions for volunteers and conservation focused activity, however for smaller ecological consultancies and sole traders the pricing structure may have a more significant impact. However, we recognise that central government funding for Natural England is being squeezed and that the service Natural England has provided in recent years has suffered considerably as a direct consequence of this. If the charging proposals lead to a more streamlined, efficient and pragmatic protected species advice service from Natural England, then that will be to the benefit of ecologists, developers and the industry as a whole and is cautiously welcomed."
Natural England will seek Parliamentary approval for the charging scheme to be introduced as a Statutory Instrument under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to come into force in October 2018. If approved, charges will be implemented when Natural England is confident that the service standard for licence delivery will be achieved and will be phased accordingly. This is unlikely to be before the beginning of 2019. Natural England will continue to consult with applicant groups and will provide updates through articles in the Wildlife Licensing Newsletter. Natural England will also develop system improvements, for example to enable online payment mechanisms. 

Read the full response from Natural England to the consultation.


National Bat Monitoring Programme Annual Report 2017 - Bat Conservation Trust

The latest results of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) with data up to the end of September 2017 are now available.

Last year nearly 1,000 dedicated volunteers carried out NBMP bat surveys at a total of 1,867 sites across the UK. The survey results allow BCT to provide population trends for 11 out of the 17 species of bat which breed in the UK. Unfortunately, at present we are not able to produce population trends for some of the rarer and more habitat-specialist bat species such as barbastelle or Bechstein’s bat as they are difficult to monitor or rarely encountered.

Results of the NBMP show that from the baseline year of monitoring (1999 for most species) to 2017, GB populations of all 11 species of bat surveyed appear to be either stable or increasing, though a few results need treating with caution at present and there are regional and/or country differences. Species considered to have increased in Great Britain since the baseline year of monitoring are greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat and common pipistrelle, all of which often use buildings to roosts in.

Download the report here.


Scientific Publications

Parker, S. S., Pauly, G. B., Moore, J. , Fraga, N. S., Knapp, J. J., Principe, Z. , Brown, B. V., Randall, J. M., Cohen, B. S. and Wake, T. A. (2018), Adapting the bioblitz to meet conservation needs. Conservation Biology. . doi:10.1111/cobi.13103


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