Hedgehog highways and swift bricks must be installed in new developments, ministers say as they rush out announcements

New national planning guidance published on Sunday by communities secretary James Brokenshire orders developers to do more to protect wildlife. Ludlow Swift Group will welcome his insistence that developers install swift bricks in new homes. Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society will welcome the obligation for developers to install hedgehog highways. There is more to this guidance which strengthens requirements for developers and councils to seek a net gain in biodiversity when developments are built.

This is a welcome announcement but there is wriggle room in the guidance and a lot will depend on local interpretation. Wildlife groups and communities will need to lobby Shropshire Council to ensure that its forthcoming local plan has the strongest measures possible to protect and enhance biodiversity. Those measures might include a “greening factor”.

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Climate emergency set to dominate Shropshire Council agenda next Thursday with three motions and one petition

The climate emergency features on Shropshire Council’s agenda on Thursday, 16 May. Not once, not twice or even three times. There is one public petition and three motions from political parties and independent councillors. This is unprecedented and I am not sure how the debate will be managed. It would be a good idea to move the motions from the end to the beginning of the meeting to be debated along with the petition. But it is sea change from the February council meeting, when the council speaker cruelly extinguished a public question on climate change over a technicality.

I am sure the council will get the hint that we need to declare a climate emergency. But this must be more than a token gesture to capture the current public mood. The council must bring forward its plans to become carbon neutral from a target of 2050 to 2030, if not sooner. And it needs to seriously rethink its plans for cuts to bus cuts and building an environmentally destructive North West Relief Road around Shrewsbury.

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International experts say we are heading towards a global biodiversity emergency. We must act in Shropshire – now

Look around you. Trees are being felled. Hedges grubbed out. Arable fields are too often growing a monoculture crop boosted by chemicals. Biodiversity is the loser. As will be humanity if we continue this way.

Few of us have heard of the body that published a technical report on the loss and threat to all manner of species today. But that doesn’t make the report from the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) any less important. It is one of the most important environmental reports of this decade. It states bluntly that almost all environmental indicators show the health of nature is decreasing. Biodiversity is dying.

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New plans submitted for T-Junction on A49 for Foldgate Lane housing development

Crest Nicholson has submitted a planning application to create an access from the A49 to the proposed development of 137 homes at Foldgate Lane. To meet national road safety guidelines, the A49 must be widened by 1.7 metres to accommodate a ghost island for traffic turning right into the development. An extensive visibility splay is needed for traffic leaving the site.

The main casualty of this is more than 100 young-mature and semi-mature trees. There is a plan in place for replacement trees but these will take some time to mature, during which time at least a dozen homes will suffer undesirable traffic noise and air pollution.

Any tree removal is likely to be controversial in the current febrile debate about the growing practice of hedge netting. If this development is to go ahead, and many people wish it would not, it seems there is no other option other than removal of the trees. But that must not happen until the nesting season ends.

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Petition against hedge netting passes 200,000 signatures. Ludlow protest planned. RSPB takes tough stance against netting. Please write to your MP

Last night, the petition against the growing practice of netting hedges and trees to prevent birds nesting passed 200,000 signatures. It is still growing.

Campaigners are to meet to protest against the hedge netting at Rocks Green at 11am on Sunday 14 April, SY8 2DS. More than 6,000 people have joined the Facebook group, Nesting not Netting!

Ecologists and the RSPB have issued a new statement advising against netting and, should it be deemed necessary, for inspections every three hours.

I have written to Ludlow’s MP Philip Dunne asking him to act and attend the forthcoming debate in parliament.

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