Sunday, 29 July 2018

Ancient woodland and veteran trees accorded more protection under revised NPPF

It’s rare there’s ever any good news in the planning world for nature, but last week:


The revised NPPF comes into effect immediately. It is now such that:
175. When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should apply the following principles:
c) development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists;
Whereas previously:
planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss;
On compensation strategies, this LocalGov article Planning and Ecology offers a warning:
In recent months, we’ve seen a raft of new government guidance published...
Taken together, these factors imply an increase in the level of strategic planning the government wishes local authorities to undertake, to ensure that development delivers benefits to the environment. This is evident in paragraph 35, as well as 168d which states that: 'Planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by: minimising impacts and providing net gains for biodiversity.'
This, like much of the new legislation, bodes well for the environment when it comes to development and planning concerns; the new documents demonstrate an increased inclination towards supporting local authorities to deliver ‘net gains’ for biodiversity.
However, and while this is to be applauded, previous experience suggests that realizing these benefits in practice will prove a greater task.
The government Section 106 agreements currently in place, which require housing developers to deliver social benefits – such as low-cost housing – to local communities, offer an example. These agreements have proved less successful than anticipated, in large part due to inadequate enforcement and a lack of clear delineation.
In addition to this challenge, government pilot schemes have called attention to issues with some of the methodology designed to deliver benefits to the environment.
The eight pilot schemes set up to trial Biodiversity Offsetting from 2012-2014 highlighted some issues with realizing ‘net gains’ in practice. Reviews found that delivery of the offsetting measures was hindered by a lack of both experience and evidence.

Drakelands Mine


Last year, we asked What happened last time DCC approved a major minerals application? We posted how DCC had approved a planning application from the Australian outfit Wolf Minerals to extend operations from 2021 to 2036 at its Drakelands Mine (an open pit tungsten mine just outside Plymouth, near the villages of Sparkwell and Hemerdon). We posted how the health impacts from "56 households and up to 103 individuals" from blasting and low frequency vibration were cast aside, after officers recommended approval talking about the reality of the situation:
The protection to be afforded to residents has to be balanced with the reality of the scale of this particular mining operation which is one of the largest mines in Western Europe.
We also posted how Wolf had submitted a new planning application for an explosives store, but that:
Looking beyond the health cost to local residents, it looks like Wolf Minerals could need more than a new explosives store to survive.
And indeed last week, as the share price of Wolf Minerals LSE:WLFE sank ever closer to zero, and the scar blighting Dartmoor looms ever larger, reality caught up with the company as it announced "a trading halt in its shares [on ASX] pending an announcement on its financing arrangements." In 2017, the company incurred a net loss after tax of A$74,536,641, or about £42m.


Residents, who have had to endure the "horrendous invasive unacceptable" impact of blasting and low frequency noise will no doubt be watching events closely – to see how much more money will be poured into this very big hole.

EDIT 30.7.18: Wolf Minerals today announced a "Senior Debt Deferral and Additional £4 Million Funding" which is:
expected to be sufficient to support Wolf's short-term working capital requirements until 28 October 2018, during which time the Company will undertake a strategic review of its funding arrangements.

‘Hundreds risk lives swimming in AI quarry’

In warm weather, water attracts young people.

It’s a problem for Aggregate Industries, particularly at a quarry in Leighton Buzzard where the company has reported 'a huge increase in children trespassing' during the hot weather. Round-the-clock security patrols are now in place at a cost of £3,000 a week. The company has apparently visited local schools to tell children about the dangers – hoping this will deter them from entering the site.



According to general manager Tom Wise 'this was not the first time problems had happened'.
The big issue is its an uncontrolled body of water so if children or anyone was to enter it there are no lifeguards there are no trained people its not as if you are going to the beach or the swimming pool, you don't know what is in there below you.
It’s another dangerous risk the quarry industry brings to local communities. Over the last few weeks:
Unfortunately, nothing changes. Back in 2014, we posted Another tragic drowning in a quarry:
It’s the same every year - people, often children and teenagers, drown in disused and active quarries all over the UK. Every year there are safety campaigns. Every year there are deaths.
Mineral companies are proud of their contribution to the economy and the built environment. Increasingly, they ‘greenwash’ their activities by promoting their contribution to the natural environment too. But drownings at quarries damage the industry's image, arguably more than anything else.
The industry can blame the victims for not reading or heeding the warning signs, for not having more common sense. But more often than not, the victims are just children looking for an adventure, looking to have a good time with friends in the sun.
The industry has to do more. It has left a legacy of deep, cold, water-filled pits littering the country - a trail of potential danger.

LafargeHolcim to sell $1.7bn of assets as H1 profits fall 43%

LafargeHolcim, parent company of Aggregate Industries, announced first half results on Friday. Profits fell 43% after CHF 300 million of restructuring costs were booked. The company plans to raise USD 1.7 billion from disposals, and reported that:
Volumes in the UK were broadly stable, but profits were lower on the back of higher costs.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Whilst Europe burns, what’s the UK minerals industry doing about climate change?

With the horrific pictures from Greece, wildfires in the Arctic, and the northern hemisphere suffering an unprecedented heatwave, what action on CO2 can we expect from UK mineral companies – specifically those represented by the Mineral Products Association? Have members of this trade association grasped the urgency of climate change?

Well, obviously Aggregate Industries hasn’t – its multi-million mile plan for Straitgate is proof of that.

Is the MPA any better? Look at these targets and decide. The MPA claims it wants to "Reduce the climate change and other impacts of the transportation and delivery of products", so what tough challenge has it set itself? How quickly will it respond?

Don’t get hopeful. Because whilst climate change has been in the headlines for years – the most severe challenge facing our planet, threatening the well-being of hundreds of millions of people – the MPA hasn’t even found its calculator yet, and totted up how much CO2 its members' HGVs are pumping out.

It has given itself until 2020 to produce an answer. With climate friends like this, who needs enemies?


For anyone reading the report, that "30 miles for aggregates" distance would not apply for Straitgate.

Any as-dug material from Straitgate, which includes 20% waste, would need to travel 46 miles just for processing. Excluding the 20% waste, each processed load would have effectively travelled 58 miles, before any delivery mileage. We are told that 90% of the material would be sold into the Exeter market travelling via the A38 and M5 – another 20 miles or more.

So there’s your answer for how seriously the mineral industry takes climate change. It should hang its head in shame.

Monday, 23 July 2018

AI submits new planning application for Hillhead – read into that what you will


The planning application in 2017 to quarry Straitgate Farm, DCC/3944/2017, was submitted in tandem with another application, DCC/3945/2017, for the:
Importation of up to 1.5 million tonnes of as raised sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm into Hillhead Quarry for processing, together with the widening of a 400 metre length of Clay Lane
This planning application is inextricably linked to another separate planning application to win and work 1.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel at Straitgate Farm. 1.1.2
The widening is proposed in order to allow two-way lorry movements along this stretch of road. It is proposed to alter the one-way routing system such that lorries no longer need to use the stretch of Broad Path off the A38, relieving residents at that junction from quarry traffic and waste traffic. This part of the application is considered to be of significant benefit to the local community. 3.3.2
In other words, AI was prepared, at last, to widen Clay Lane for its HGVs, bringing "significant benefit to the local community" – if permission was granted to allow both quarrying at Straitgate Farm and the importation of the spoils to Hillhead, some 23 miles away near Uffculme, for processing.

Residents near Hillhead have complained for years about unsuitable roads, the voluntary one way system, and trucks passing close to houses. The proposed widening of Clay Lane was meant to ameliorate the situation once and for all, and was touted by AI as a benefit, the quid pro quo, of the Straitgate/Hillhead scheme, "sufficient to outweigh the negative impact of transporting the Straitgate minerals to Hillhead Quarry for processing", sufficient benefit in AI’s mind to "overcome the apparent conflict with Policy M22" of the Devon Minerals Plan. 5.4.11

However, at the end of June – whether or not in response to the delays at Straitgate: the fact that the determination date has been delayed for the 5th time, the fact that AI’s water problems at Straitgate go from bad to worse, the fact that AI’s and Amec’s groundwater predictions are falling apart all over the site, the fact that there are errors the height of houses, or the fact that AI’s infiltration plans can’t work either – with groundwater this close to the surface – AI submitted a new planning application, DCC/4067/2018, for this same stretch of road at Hillhead:
Widening of a 400 metre length of Clay Lane to allow for two-way vehicular movements associated with existing mineral operations

Read into this what you will: why this new application is needed if AI is confident of securing permission in a timely manner for the importation of Straitgate material to Hillhead; why, after delaying the widening of Clay Lane for many years, AI suddenly can't wait until the "inextricably linked" Straitgate and Hillhead applications are decided.

This application is a standalone planning application and is not linked to the currently pending application for importation of sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm into Hillhead Quarry for processing, together with the widening of Clay Lane (DCC/3945/2017). 1.2
AI’s inability to wait no doubt means that this application has less to do with "significant benefit to the local community", or re-routing trucks to avoid passing "4 residential properties", and more to do with the "operational benefits for the existing, permitted activities at Hillhead Quarry and Houndaller Extension".

But, whatever the reason, it’s worth pointing out that the Devon Minerals Plan nevertheless makes the widening of Clay Lane a prerequisite for any workings at nearby Penslade. As AI highlighted in the Supporting Statement for its linked Hillhead application:
The Preferred Area checklist for the Penslade Cross resource at Hillhead makes specific reference to the site access point and the desire for quarry traffic to avoid residential properties through the widening of Clay Lane and the avoidance of use of Broad Path. Rather than wait 10 years or more for a planning application to work the Penslade minerals, for this to become a reality, this application proposes to bring about the widening of Clay Lane much earlier. This must be of great benefit to residential amenity and carry significant weight in the decision making process. 5.5.8
Like Straitgate, Penslade is designated a Preferred Area for sand and gravel extraction in the Devon Minerals Plan. However, unlike Straitgate, it is 23 miles closer to AI’s newly reconstructed processing plant at Hillhead, and has eight times the estimated resource.

Aside from that, if this new Clay Lane application is approved, it would obviously mean that AI’s existing Straitgate and Hillhead applications would no longer bring the so-called "highway infrastructure improvement measures… sufficient to outweigh the negative impact of transporting the Straitgate minerals to Hillhead Quarry" – some 2.5 million HGV miles with associated CO2 and pollution – and would no longer bring "great benefit to residential amenity and carry significant weight in the decision making process".

From which you could conclude anything. Perhaps AI is confident it doesn’t need this great benefit to win the delayed, floundering, inextricably linked Straitgate and Hillhead applications. Alternatively, with all the constraints and an ever-reducing resource, perhaps Straitgate is no longer worth the candle; or, perhaps AI is no longer confident it can win Straitgate at all.

Consultation on the Clay Lane application, DCC/4067/2018, is open until 02/08/2018.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

AI’s application to quarry Straitgate Farm – determination date delayed for 5th time


This whole thing is becoming a farce.
It’s now three years since Aggregate Industries’ first planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm, and we’re still facing one empty extension after another with no end in sight ...
... it’s not clear what, if anything, AI has progressed since its previous extensions. At the end of last year, information was still outstanding on ecology, hydrogeology and highways. Six months on, work is still outstanding on ecology, hydrogeology and highways.
If AI hasn’t put things on hold, it’s clearly no longer in any hurry.
And plainly it’s not, because yet another extension to the determination date has been agreed between AI and DCC – this time to 31st December 2018; previous extensions can be found here, here, here and here. The farce continues.

B3174 Exeter Road closed


The road surface of the B3174 – Aggregate Industries’ proposed haul road for its Straitgate Farm quarry proposal – can’t cope with the existing traffic, let alone up to another 200 HGVs a day; the Exeter Road is currently closed for resurfacing, and will be for this week and part of next.

The road already has to cope with 7000 or more vehicles a day during weekdays. These vehicles are now having to find an alternative route through the narrow lanes of adjoining villages.

AI’s traffic count on this road has only recently been undertaken. Readers may remember that last year, the previous "count" put forward by AI bore no relation to reality; its consultant could not explain why.

We have previously posted that AI's haulage plans could cause the same road damage as 17 billion car movements, that the heaviest 44-tonne HGVs – the one's that AI would be using – "are up to 160,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than the smallest vehicles", that:
Aggregate Industries is wanting to shift 1.5 million tonnes of as-dug sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm to Uffculme. This equates to some 105,260 HGV movements, which - according to the above - could generate the same road wear and tear as up to 17 billion standard car movements. Has AI factored road repairs into its costings yet?
Of course, for Devon County Council, the irony is that - by adopting a Minerals Plan with a Preferred Area for sand and gravel quarrying that can only be processed 23 miles away - this situation is entirely of its own making; a 2.5 million mile own goal.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Safer lorry design, lies, and Boris Johnson’s resignation letter




The issue of safer lorry design has recently been brought to the fore again – as unlikely as it may seem, in Boris Johnson’s resignation letter.

This blog normally steers clear of politics – it’s just too depressing – but, and as widely pointed out by Full Fact (the UK’s independent factchecking charity), road.cc, the FT and others, "Boris Johnson lied about EU safety regulation in his resignation letter". His letter claimed:
It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws. Indeed we seem to have gone backwards since the last Chequers meeting in February, when I described my frustrations, as Mayor of London, in trying to protect cyclists from juggernauts. We had wanted to lower the cabin windows to improve visibility; and even though such designs were already on the market, and even though there had been a horrific spate of deaths, mainly of female cyclists, we were told that we had to wait for the EU to legislate on the matter.
If a country cannot pass a law to save the lives of female cyclists – when that proposal is supported at every level of UK Government – then I don’t see how that country can truly be called independent.
Where we are not supporting European Parliament proposals, it is simply because they will not produce practical changes in cab design and could lead to additional bureaucracy for Britain.
And it was Johnson who expressed concern at this lack of support:
If these amendments, supported by dozens of cities across Europe, can succeed, we can save literally hundreds of lives across the EU in years to come. I am deeply concerned at the position of the British Government and urge them to embrace this vital issue.
Social media has not taken kindly to Johnson's recent retelling of events:


The UK did eventually support the proposal, and the European Parliament voted to amend its laws:
... widening lorry design specifications to increase driver visibility and reduce the chance of serious injury in a low-speed collision.
These rules are not mandatory – older lorry designs will still be allowed on the road.
However, the EU truck safety and efficiency law was delayed until 2019. The European Transport Safety Council warned:
These changes could prevent up to 900 deaths a year on European roads, so any delay will cost lives.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

50th anniversary of the devastating floods in East Devon

Tipton St John Memories



"10 July 1968 saw one of the worst natural disasters East Devon has ever experienced", starts a press release last month from the Environment Agency:
A summer storm flooded homes and businesses across the south west, thousands were driven from their homes and tragically a number of lives were lost.
The impacts of the flood were immense; bridges collapsed causing roads to close. Sidmouth, Colyton, Honiton, Newton Poppleford, East Budleigh and Ottery St Mary all had significant flood damage whilst The Otterhead reservoir was completely washed away.
We've referred to this event before in Straitgate Farm, the subject of a 1968 Public Inquiry:
It was the time of Harold Wilson and The Beatles, the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Vietnam war. On 10 July five inches of rain fell and Ottery St Mary flooded, as did other parts of East Devon. Several people drowned. By coincidence a Public Inquiry was sitting on the same day at County Hall deciding the fate of Straitgate Farm.
Tipton St John, downstream of Ottery St Mary, was also badly affected, and lost its bridge:
The little humpback bridge at Tipton crumbled instantly when the full force of water hit it. During his visit to Tipton the following Monday, the Duke of Edinburgh chatted to villagers in the Golden Lion Public House, including Mrs D. M. Alderdice and her daughter Margaret, who had the honour of serving the Duke with a half pint of bitter. Miss Alderdice later said that the beer glass would be inscribed to commemorate the Duke’s visit.
Tipton St John Memories

A Bailey Bridge was subsequently put up by the Army to keep the road open.

Some years later, also in the month of July, Ottery St Mary flooded again. We posted:
Ottery St Mary has a history of flooding: in recent years, August 1997, September 1997, September 1998, October 2005, November 2005, October 2008, and now 7 July 2012.
Aggregate Industries need to be aware just how much it can rain here, and how much water they would have to manage if they quarried Straitgate Farm.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Without more boreholes, and years of further groundwater monitoring, AI and its band of consultants are just groping in the dark

The problems of water – whether it’s to do with flooding, ponding, or maintaining the quality and flow-rates of springs, streams, and private water supplies – has been, and still is, one of the biggest issues for Aggregate Industries to resolve in its planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm.

AI maintains that any quarry would be worked dry, that it would have:
a working base that coincides with, and never drops below the maximum recorded winter water table XD28
So it was therefore necessary for its consultants:
to determine what the maximum winter groundwater level would be, so as to ensure that all working under normal operating conditions would be above this level. 6.1.13
But this obviously leaves no margin for safety, no margin for inaccuracies in AI’s model, no margin for errors in digging, no margin for future land-use pollutants, and no margin for climate change. Leaving 1 metre unquarried above the maximum water table – typical elsewhere where groundwater is at risk – would go some way to resolve this, but AI wants it all.

AI’s problem, however, is that it doesn’t know where the highest winter water table is with any degree of accuracy, even less so with all the problems highlighted in the posts last month – here, here, here, here, here and here. The more time goes on, the more AI and its groundwater model seems to fall apart – out by up to 6.8m in one place!

For AI’s experts this must be embarrassing. It must also reflect on their professional competence; because if they can be wrong by as much as 6.8m in one area, how wrong could they be elsewhere?

You have to also ask: if these measurements had not come to light, and AI’s unorthodox scheme had already been given the nod, what problems would we now be looking at?

Plainly, the proposed depths and extraction area will have to be modified – but without new boreholes, new piezometers, and years of further groundwater level monitoring, AI and its consultants are just groping in the dark.

There are simply too many unknowns for groundwater levels along the eastern side to be extrapolated, or for 'localised adjustments' to be made. AI's consultants will have to produce something more robust – something which can only come from more measurements, not more guesswork.

Why is the maximum groundwater level so difficult to model? Well, it doesn't help that AI drilled insufficient boreholes back in 2013. It doesn't help that only 6 locations were used to model the proposed extraction area – 6 data points is hardly enough to model a handkerchief, let alone 60 acres. It doesn't help that the site is on the side of a hill. It doesn't help that, in Amec’s words, the site has "unmapped local faulting" and "steps in the water table related to faulting". There are now 13 boreholes around the proposed extraction area – but clearly that doesn't help enough either.

The issue of water at Straitgate is so important to private water users, flood-prone communities, ancient woodland, listed mediaeval fishponds and Exeter Airport, that the matter needs to be resolved before determination – as DCC has already made clear:
The surface water management is inextricably connected to Flood Risk Management/Airport safeguarding and the need to maintain and recharge watercourses. This issue is so important in terms of the likely significant impacts of the proposal the MPA would wish to ensure that a SWM scheme can be designed to meet all of the requirements identified in advance of the determination of this application. 17
Why is the issue so important?

Flooding is one reason: Readers may remember the flooding in 2008, when the four watercourses from Straitgate caused flooding downstream; one flooded more than 50 properties, prompting the EA to build a flood defence scheme – 11/2338/FUL. The EA's FRA wrote:
The aim of the proposed relief channel is to reduce fluvial flood risk to properties at Thorne Farm Way which was last flooded from the Thorne Farm Stream in October 2008. This event resulted in the flooding of 55 properties in Thorne Farm Way.
But the EA recognised that if the scheme suffered "an over design event" this still:
may result in flooding to Thorne Farm Way
What would increase the risk of an over design event? Well, having a quarry upstream – with ineffective infiltration areas, heavy machinery causing soil compaction, and removing a million tonnes of groundwater storage capacity for evermore – is hardly going to help. As AI has previously admitted:
One of the potential consequences of climate change is the increasing number of heavy rainfall events; our sites cover large catchment areas and there is an increasing risk of sites breaking permitted discharge consent limits...
And in 2012, after discussions with the EA, DCC had to concede in email correspondence that:
... the scheme for Thorne Farm does not take account of any increased surface water flows that may occur as a result of quarrying upstream of that site.
Later that year, unaware of what was being planned upstream, the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman paid the scheme a visit – after another bout of flooding.


Hugo Swire MP followed and felt it important "that we double our efforts" to prevent a repeat, having commented earlier on the Straitgate proposal:
It would seem somewhat regressive having spent a large amount of public money on flood prevention to then allow for a scheme which may contribute to future flooding.
AI of course didn't want to remind people about all this. Despite the relief scheme, despite visits from the Environment Secretary and MP, despite being on the EA's Historic Flood Map, the historic flooding section of its Flood Risk Assessment 'forgot' to mention it was a watercourse from Straitgate that flooded 55 properties in 2008. Funny that.



But it’s not just flooding. Exeter Airport has had things to say about AI’s plans too. In 2012:
Under the Air Navigation Law, it is a criminal offence to endanger an aircraft or its occupants by any means.... To ensure aviation safety it is suggested that no ponds or body of water be allowed as part of this development.
The Environment Agency has also previously expressed concern that:
A possible change in recharge and runoff patterns (e.g. an increase in runoff and decrease in aquifer recharge during high intensity rainfall events ) as a result of removal of part of the unsaturated zone, with the potential to impact on: eastward flowing groundwater; the flow of springs; local private water supplies; the volume of groundwater draining to Cadhay Wood CWS and Cadhay Bog CWS. An increase in the possible risk of contamination of groundwater as a result of the removal of part of the unsaturated zone. 7.104
What problems can councils have if this type of thing isn’t sorted out before determination? Look at what happened in Cheshire a few weeks ago, where – with less than 24 hours notice – a council pulled a planning meeting to determine an application by Sibelco for a sand quarry – due to newly presented groundwater concerns:
The applications have been deferred due to a late representation which raises issues with respect to hydrology and hydrogeology.
After waiting years for AI to get its act together with Straitgate Farm, DCC is unlikely to want that.

Miscellaneous

This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast – writes Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London and the University of Leeds
Water, housing, farming … almost every aspect of public life needs to change. Why isn’t this top of the political agenda? Climate change is a greater threat to the UK than EU directives, terrorism, or a foreign power invading. Much of the world is in the grip of a heatwave. Britain is so hot and dry that we have Indonesia-style peat fires raging across our moorlands. Montreal posted its highest temperature ever, with the deaths of 33 people in Quebec attributed to the scorching heat. And if you think that’s hot and dangerous, the town of Quriyat in Oman never went below a frightening 42.6C for a full 24 hours in June, almost certainly a global record. 
While Donald Trump and many conservatives like to argue that climate change is a hoax, James Hansen, the 77-year-old former Nasa climate scientist, said in an interview at his home in New York that the relevant hoax today is perpetrated by those leaders claiming to be addressing the problem.
A study published by the UK National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) has warned rising sea levels could cost the world economy £10trillion ($14trillion) a year by 2100. The startling report argued failure to meet the United Nation’s (UN) 2C warming limits could have catastrophic consequences. The scientists behind the study fear hundreds of millions of people who reside in low coastal areas are most at risk from rising sea levels.
‘Striking association’ found between nine-year-old’s hospital admissions and local spikes in air pollution
MPs have criticised government proposals that could see some fracking planning applications considered under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime or allowed as permitted development rights as 'hugely harmful to local democracy'.
“It’s catastrophic and that’s what we’ve forgotten – our generation is presiding over an ecological apocalypse and we’ve somehow or other normalised it. We need a peaceful public uprising. We need people to say we’ve had enough. We do that every time there’s a terror attack. We need a similar movement for nature. We need people to stand up and say we want action now.”
Factors such as climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and disease are to blame, the report said. Prof Fiona Mathews, chairwoman of the Mammal Society said: "This is the first time anyone has looked across all species for about 20 years.
Research by a team at the University of Exeter examined data from 300 sites across England and Wales which detailed numbers, breeding trends and population changes in relation to climate, habitat and woodland management. Dr Cecily Goodwin, who led the research, said the study “used nest box site surveys and volunteers and found that over 21 years at hundreds of sites across the country, dormice had declined by 72 per cent”.
The Mind Matters research conducted by Construction News last year uncovered shocking figures for mental health within the industry, revealing one in four construction workers surveyed had contemplated taking their own life, rising to one in three amongst junior staff and graduates. A further survey by recruitment specialists Randstad also found that almost a quarter of construction workers were considering leaving the industry within a year, many due to stress and poor mental health. To be haemorrhaging human resource at such a rate is clearly unthinkable and unsustainable – especially given the existing skills-gap challenge of an ageing, predominantly white and male workforce.