100 years ago the common dormouse was, as its name suggests, commonly found across all of England and Wales. But recent surveys show that dormice have been lost from many counties and are predominantly concentrated in hotspots in southern England and the borders. The common dormice is no longer common – it is a European Protected Species supposedly protected by the law. Despite this protection the dormice population has continued to decline in recent years – see the People’s Trust for Endangered Species website for more details and what you can do.
Happily dormice are found in the hedgerows and woods around Four Marks. Less happily the way that East Hampshire DC seem to apply Natural England’s “Standing Advice” is leading to the slow eradication of dormice in the western part of Four Marks. In five years time they, and we, will discover to our horror that there are no longer any dormice but all the “boxes” will have been ticked in terms of license terms agreed to and mitigation actions being taken by the developer.
The county ecologists should be considering the collective impact of all the actual and proposed development rather than considering each proposed development in isolation. Taking a “box ticking” approach to assessing the impact of developments on dormice allows developers protection against prosecution while providing no protection to the dormouse.
Look at this real example from the Medstead Farm development off Brislands Lane. The picture is of a dormouse bridge!
The builders destroyed the ancient hedgerow (shame about the dormice known to be living there) and have put this in its place. It is not connected to the hedgerow, is enormously high, unlike any branch you’ve ever seen and would require a dormouse to be equipped with rope and crampons to make it over . But although there is no evidence that dormice bridges are used by dormice this is seen as an acceptable mitigation and a box is ticked.
Please see the case for looking at the accumulative impact on dormice for more examples of how developers and East Hampshire DC are escaping accountability while driving dormice towards extinction.