Protecting Britain’s wildlife: Developers’ worst enemies
This small snail almost halted the Newbury bypass.
Sadly, it was revealed yesterday that it has died out in the area but its name will live on as a symbol of planning protest.
Jonathan Brown looks at 10 animals that stood in the way of the bulldozers
Published: 28 July 2006
Desmoulin’s whorl snail Newbury Bypass
The battle to save a colony of tiny snails that stood in the way of the controversial Newbury Bypass went all the way to the High Court.
Environmentalists argued that as one of Europe’s most imperilled molluscs, Desmoulin’s whorl snails (Vertigo moulinsiana) should not have a road built through their natural habitat. …
Great crested newt North Wales playground and Westbury bypass, Wiltshire
It may be Britain’s third rarest newt, but when it comes to development schemes, Triturus cristatus seems to find itself all too commonly in the way of the bulldozers. …
Bog bush cricket Landfill site at Aucheninnes Moss, Scotland
The plight of this nationally scarce priority species has been highlighted by plans to turn an ancient peat bog known as Aucheninnes Moss, into a landfill site.
Despite a campaign under the banner Don’t Dump on our Bog, Scottish ministers gave the go-ahead in 2003.
Metrioptera brachyptera is frequently found on southern heaths and bogs, but it is rare in northern England and the Aucheninnes area is the only site in Scotland where it is found.
The bog was once part of the extensive Barclosh Moss Complex which has been nibbled away by development and the planting of forests.
Other species threatened are the sorrel pygmy moth (Enteucha acetosae), which is unique to the bog, and the small pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria selene).
Black redstart The Dome, Greenwich, east London
Considering all the trouble it has caused the Government, not least in recent weeks, perhaps it would have been for the best if the presence of Phoenicurus ochruros on the Greenwich site had strangled New Labour’s ill-fated baby at birth.
The robin-sized bird has adapted to living in inner-city areas such as the former gas works on the Thames peninsula.
With fewer than 100 breeding pairs in the UK, the bird is on the amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern.
It was the ironically named Lord Falconer of Thoroton, then the Dome minister, who green-lighted the Dome and three breeding pairs were required to vacate the premises.
In October 2000, the species returned, with pairs spotted setting up home on the roofs of three tower blocks at nearby Canary Wharf where wildlife-friendly gardens had been built.
On average there are between eight and 12 pairs breeding in Greater London each year with a further six to 10 singing males present.
Water vole Housing development in Dartford, Kent
Often mistaken for its unloved relation the rat, the water vole occupies a unique position in the mythology of the English countryside.
Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, was in fact a water vole (Arvicola terrestris). …
Dark-bellied brent goose Container port on The Solent
Wildlife campaigners celebrated a rare victory when the former transport secretary Alastair Darling turned down a scheme to build a massive container port on the Solent.
After four years of plans and public inquiries, the proposals for Dibden Bay near Southampton, which would have affected two special areas of conservation, one special protection area and eight sites of special scientific interest, were rejected.
A major stumbling block was the presence of large numbers of waterfowl which inhabit the mudflats around the bay.
The dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla) was among the birds under threat. …
Badger Edinburgh airport road and rail link
To their well-organised supporters, badgers represent the quintessence of British fauna: the largest land carnivore since the extinction of the bear and the wolf, and a vital link with these islands’ ancient past. …
Dunlin Barrage on Mersey Estuary
The idea of a barrage across the Mersey has long pitted environmentalists eager to harness the clean power of the river against wildlife campaigners who fear it would devastate the estuary’s important birdlife.
The last time the scheme was seriously floated was in the 1990s when, much to the delight of groups such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the project was scrapped when it became apparent it was economically doomed.
Opponents of the scheme rallied behind the dunlin (Calidris alpina), a wading bird which uses the estuary mudflats as a staging post on its way to and from breeding grounds in Africa and northern Europe.
The bird is responsible for one of the most stunning natural sights in the region when they take to the wing in flocks of up to 5,000.
Plans for the barrage resurfaced last year with a new scheme to generate enough electricity to power 15 per cent of the North-west’s requirements. Will the dunlin be the victor once again?
Brown-banded carder bee Regeneration plans for the Thames Gateway
When plans were unveiled to build tens of thousands of new homes on the banks of the Thames east of London, wildlife campaigners feared that some of the most endangered invertebrate species could be put under threat.
Chief among these was Bombus humilis, one of the most endangered of Britain’s 24 species of bumblebee.
Populations of all domestic bees have collapsed in recent years, due to habitat loss and intensive farming practices.
But some species have found sanctuary amid the derelict factories and overgrown warehouses along the Thames. …
Dartford warbler House building in the Home Counties
The sight of Sylvia undata on a Surrey heath forced housing developers to shelve a vast house building project earlier this year.
The Independent revealed how plans to build up to 20,000 homes across a 300 square mile expanse of lowland heath in the Home Counties had to be blocked because it is the habitat of three rare birds, including the Dartford warbler.
The bird has attracted the concern of wildlife campaigners since the 1960s, when its population crashed to just a few pairs.
Since then, it has increased in both numbers and range, but remains on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ “amber list” and is still at risk of extinction.
In the past 200 years, the lowlands, known as the Thames Basin Heaths, have been depleted to one-sixth of the terrain they once covered, but became protected by European wildlife law in March this year.
The warbler makes its home in gorse scrub and heather and as an insect eater, is vulnerable in cold winters.