Friday, 21 April 2017

AI has decided to do another dormouse survey

Any hopes Aggregate Industries may have had to start ripping out the 2km of hedgerows at Straitgate Farm this year appear to have been dashed. Next week, some 200 dormouse nest tubes will go up around the site. The tubes will be checked for dormice at various points up until October or November.

All of AI’s wildlife surveys are now out of date - but, for now, the dormouse survey is the only one the company has plans to redo. Why would AI want to check for this European Protected Species again, when apparently it hasn’t yet been asked to by DCC or Natural England? It could be that AI knows it won’t secure a licence from Natural England with an out of date survey. Or it could be for another reason.

AI hasn’t done anywhere near enough timely tree planting for the displaced dormice to have anything worthwhile to move into; trees and hedges have been planted in the wrong place, and Exeter Airport also wants large chunks removed. How can AI get around this? It could simply do more planting, and wait for it to grow. Or it could try something else.

The last time AI was backed into a corner and performed an unscripted wildlife survey, it came up with a population of EPS - in that case GCNs - to prove why it couldn’t process material at Rockbeare. This time it will be hoping for the reverse. It will be hoping that the population of dormice has gone, or is certainly less than was discovered before. It will be hoping that the meagre planting that has already been done will be enough to support any population found.

The last population of dormice was found by consultants SLR in 2013. AI has asked a different contractor to do the job this time.