A North Yorkshire farmer illegally built a track across the Newtondale SSSI. Photograph: Natural England A North Yorkshire farmer illegally built a track across the Newtondale SSSI. Photograph: Natural England

7 of the year's most remarkable examples of wildlife destruction

From chopping down ancient woodland without an EIA to the destruction of bat roosts, nature has fallen victim to a number of developers’ and landowners’ actions this year. ENDS looks back at some of the most remarkable incidents.

1 Developer fined £300,000 for felling protected trees

A developer has been fined £300,000 for felling a wood covered by a tree preservation order, including a 90-foot tall giant redwood believed to be 176 years old. 

Property tycoon Fiorenzo Sauro was found guilty, earlier this week in Swansea Magistrates’ Court, for ordering the destruction of 72 protected trees near Swansea and fined £180,000. His company, Enzo Homes, was also fined £120,000 for contravening a tree preservation order under S210 (1)(A) and (2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The company and Sauro will collectively need to pay £15,000 in legal costs. 

The trees were illegally felled in November in Swansea's Penllergare Valley Woods in Penllergaer, to make way for 80 homes. Arwyn Morgan, a self-employed tree surgeon paid by Sauro to fell the trees, pleaded guilty to contravening a tree preservation order and was also fined £120,000. Morgan must pay £2,000 in legal costs. 

Enzo Homes is planning to appeal the decision.

Read more about this story here.

2 Destroying bat roost costs builders £19,000

A housing developer was fined almost £19,000 this year for demolishing a property that was home to protected soprano pipistrelle bats, in only the second case of its kind to be brought by the Metropolitan Police.

In October 2016, Landrose Developments was working on the demolition and redevelopment of a bungalow in Stanmore, north-west London. A survey established that the bats were present, so the development could not be completed lawfully without obtaining a European protected species mitigation licence from Natural England and appropriate mitigation being in place. But when consultants arrived to conduct a dusk survey, they found it had been demolished. 

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3 Farmer who built track through SSSI fined £600

A farmer was issued a rare fine for laying a track through a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) without Natural England’s consent, earlier this year. 

Farmer Brian Eddon, from Pickering, had illegally levelled a mire and built a track across one hectare of the Newtondale SSSI – a 925.5 hectare protected site valued for its post-glacial valley landscape comprising woodland, grassland, fen, valley mire and moorland edge.

Eddon was sentenced in mid-July having pleaded to guilty to three offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 –  a rarely used piece of legislation for prosecuting loss or damage to habitat.

He was fined £600 and ordered to £300 for the regulator’s legal costs. An ENDS investigation later found it cost Natural England  £61,000 for pursuing the case against Eddon, meaning the regulator was able to recover less than 0.5% of its expenses. 

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4 Farmer created 'prairie' by clearing six miles of stone wall without EIA

A Scottish farmer, who was accused of “industrial-scale environmental destruction” after clearing six miles of stone wall to create a ‘prairie’, was placed under investigation by the government for a suspected breach of environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations earlier this year. 

Farmer James Orr and his Fife-based company Pitlochie Farming Co, is being investigated by the Scottish government for a “suspected” breach of the Agriculture, Land Drainage and Irrigation Projects (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

Pitlochie Farming Co was stripped of the majority of its EU-funded agri-environmental payments for removing the walls known as drystane sykes.

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5 Developer fells ancient woodland without EIA

A hotel developer was forced to restore part of an ancient woodland in a national park after it illegally felled trees to make way for a car park without carrying out an environmental impact assessment.

Halle Enterprises was forced to replant 300 pine and birch trees near its Carrbridge Hotel off the A938, after it illegally felled part of a 140-year-old Scots pine forest in the Cairngorms national park. 

Read more about this story here

6 Controversial bird netting removed from sand martin’s cliff following public outcry

North Norfolk District Council came under fire in April after it netted a stretch of the Bacton cliff face while it undertook a sandscaping project, involving adding 1.8 million cubic metres of sand to protect Bacton Gas Terminal and nearby villages.

The nets at Bacton cliffs were meant to discourage sand martins from roosting in the cliffs but provoked an outcry from groups such as the RSPB.

While it is not illegal for councils and developers to use netting but if it is not installed correctly and regularly monitored then birds could become trapped, injured or killed, which would contravene the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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7 County council orders destruction of 17,000 rare orchids 

Kent County Council ordered the clearance of tens of thousands of orchids as part of a drainage works project.

Contractors, working for the county council, destroyed 17,000 orchids on a protected roadside nature reserve, home to 9,000 pyramidal orchids and nearly 8,000 common spotted orchids, as well as man orchids, bee orchids and a wide range of other special chalk downland flowers. 

Kent Wildlife Trust described the works as 'bungled'.

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If you feel that The ENDS Report has missed any egregious examples of wildlife destruction in the UK please contact James.Parsons@haymarket.com

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