Developers replant trees after felling

Trust drops Tamar wetland plans

Gamekeeper admits poison charges

SNH is accused of collusion in windfarms row

Otter shot dead on Frodingham beck

Police fear island's historic badger population has been exterminated

'Illegal' beaver caught in wild

Anger at National Trust grouse shoots triggers withdrawal of public money

The island of Sark gains new status as a wetland of international importance

Developers replant trees after felling

EDP24 30 April 2007

Developers have been order to plant new trees after felling more than an acre of mature bluebell woodland in Norfolk without permission. Householders close to the new Queen's Hills development at west Costessey say they feel “badly let down” by land developers Cofton and South Norfolk Council.

“The residents of Ringland Lane were perhaps the only members of the public to notice what appeared to be a surreptitious land grab,” said Dr Carl Stuttard , who contacted the council as soon as he noticed the unplanned felling. A planning enforcement officer was duly dispatched but subsequently declared that all the tree felling was following the agreed plan.

"It was only when I visited the council offices to actually look closely at the plans that the officer realised that the felled area should have remained as a woodland boundary belt."

The developer told the EDP that the land had been cleared by mistake and that it was now replanting trees on the site.

Paul Whitham, South Norfolk Council's development control service manager, said: “The Queen's Hills development of over 1,000 new homes in west Costessy is taking place within a site of almost 240 acres. When we were told that the developers had felled trees in a one and a half acre corner outside the boundary for which we had given them outline permission, we took action requiring the correct boundary to be reinstated and new trees provided. Now the developers are comprehensively replanting that area with native woodland, under our supervision and with the agreement of local people. Developers must not push the boundaries beyond what they have permission for. That is vital if we are to build sustainable communities, which in turn have the support of local people.”


Trust drops Tamar wetland plans

BBC online news 30 April 2007

The National Trust has withdrawn plans for a controversial wetlands scheme on the Devon and Cornwall boundary.

The scheme, which would have meant flooding 37 acres of pasture to create a wildlife habitat at Cotehele on the River Tamar, led to local opposition.

Opponents said it would ruin part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Trust said new evidence from its own consultants had found that the river would not silt up the new land as fast as had been thought.

The Trust, which has spent about £30,000 on the plans, said there would be renewed consultation this summer about what to do next.

Gamekeeper admits poison charges

BBC News Online 30 April 2007

A Borders gamekeeper has admitted using live pigeons as bait and lacing pheasant carcasses with poison in a way likely to injure to birds of prey. George Aitken, 56, admitted eight wildlife offences at Selkirk Sheriff Court while not guilty pleas were accepted to another seven charges.

He was caught in a joint operation with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPB and Lothian and Borders Police, last August when banned pesticides and traps were found at Blythe Farm near Lauder. Aitken was described by officers as showing no remorse for his blatant disregard of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Sentence was deferred on Aitken for background reports. Dave Dick of the RSPB - who took part in the raids - said it was one of the worst cases he had seen in 20 years.

"We have fought long and hard for prison sentences for these kind of offences," he said. "I hope the sheriff is looking at the option of a jail sentence."

SNH is accused of collusion in windfarms row

this is North Scotland 30 April 2007

Scottish Natural Heritage recruited developers to devise a system of photomontage which has since been adopted as part of the decision-making process in windfarm planning applications.

To the horror of politicians and landscape lovers, the trade's Scottish Renewables forum played a lead role in shaping it and largely funded work on drafting the new guidelines.

There is currently no uniformed method of photomontage to assess turbines and the issue has consistently baffled Highland councillors who decide the fate of most planning bids. Critics have pressed for years for a definitive system of accurately assessing the visual impact of turbines.

The SNP's Fergus Ewing, a consistent critic of SNH, is disgusted by the collusion and awaits an explanation from agency chairman Andrew Thin.

In a statement, SNH said: "The involvement of the forum helps ensure that guidance is realistic and encourages best practice. We are currently preparing the material so it can be published on our website."

this is North Scotland

Otter shot dead on Frodingham beck

Driffied Times 27 April 2007

An otter has been found shot dead near Driffield and Environment Agency officers are appealing for information to lead them to the killer.

The body of the otter was found with a shot to its head at Frodingham Beck by a member of the public and reported to an Environment Agency bailiff.

The post-mortem results, which have just been released, have revealed the otter had been shot before.

Environment Agency conservationist, Martin Christmas, said: "It is unbelievable that anyone should kill one of these beautiful creatures. The otter is a protected species which makes this crime even more appalling.

A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the maximum penalty for intentionally killing or injuring an otter or other wild animal listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act is six months imprisonment and a £5,000 fine per animal killed or injured.

Police fear island's historic badger population has been exterminated

this is North Scotland 25 April 2007

The entire badger population of one Argyll island may have been deliberately destroyed, according to wildlife experts investigating a spate of animal crimes in the area. Around 40 of the creatures have been killed on Seil island over the last few years. A police officer investigating the crime believes the animals may have been gassed to death.

PC Finlay Christine, a wildlife officer with Strathclyde Police, said: "People haveto report things straight away if they fear something is happening, so that we can getevidence. Unfortunately, on Seil, the badgers have all gone now. The setts have been there for hundreds of years."

Police are also concerned that, since 2002, two golden eagles and one sea eagle have been found poisoned near Seil, using the banned substance Carbofuran.

this is North Scotland

'Illegal' beaver caught in wild

BBC News 13 April 2007

A beaver living wild in part of rural Perthshire for the past several months has been captured. It was thought beavers were on the loose after trees started to disappear at a fishery, with the trunks gnawed in two, and then a lodge later emerged.

Staff from Edinburgh Zoo have now captured what appears to be a male European beaver. The animal is being kept temporarily at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie.

Releasing beavers into the wild is illegal but it is not yet known if there are any more in the area. Tayside Police are investigating.

Anger at National Trust grouse shoots triggers withdrawal of public money

Scotland on Sunday 8 April 2007

The National Trust for Scotland has been stopped from spending public money on promoting grouse shooting on its Highland estate. It emerged earlier this year that the trust was using part of its annual grant from the government's countryside advisers, Scottish Natural Heritage, to help finance shooting days for private clients.

SNH has now reduced its annual grant of around £200,000 per year by more than £23,000 - money which up until now had been spent on employing gamekeeping staff to run the commercial shoots.

The NTS has held commercial grouse shoots on Mar Lodge, close to the Queen's Balmoral estate, since it bought the estate for the nation in 1995. A spokeswoman for SNH said agency grants had to be spent on projects with a clear outcome in conserving and protecting the estate's natural environment. "SNH grants will not be used to support sporting interest," she said.

The trust's exploitation of red grouse contrasts markedly with its attitude towards other native birds on the estate, particularly other members of the grouse family. In what it terms part of the "spectacular" Cairngorms National Park, it is recreating natural habitat for the black grouse, the capercaillie and the Scottish crossbill.

The island of Sark gains new status as a wetland of international importance

Defra News Release Ref: 108/07 2 April 2007

An area of Sark, the smallest of the Channel Islands, has for the first time been recognised as a Wetland of International Importance under the international Ramsar Convention. The site covers four hectares, from the west coast of Sark stretching across the renowned Gouliot Headland to the famous Gouliot Caves.

The Gouliot Caves support a thriving wealth of species, making this a significant wetland site. This rare intertidal habitat contains many endangered species; including sponges, sea anemones, and hydroids. The Headland above the caves supports a range of coastal ecosystems including coastal grassland and hard rock. These habitats are home to many rare and endangered species of plants, insects and lichens.

Jo Birch, member of the committee of Chief Pleas, responsible for managing the site said:
“It is important to stress that designating the Gouliot Caves as a Ramsar site will not result in traditional activities such as shore gathering, inshore fishing, angling, or diving being prohibited; conservation and wise use of resources are totally compatible with these pursuits.”

With the addition of the Gouliot Caves and Headland in Sark, the UK has designated 169 Ramsar sites, covering 897,122 hectares .The site will be officially designated on 9 April.