Effectiveness of dormice bridges unclear as mitigation strategy

The need to protect hazel dormice on a site in Hampshire planned to be developed for 24 dwellings, was sufficient to reject an appeal an inspector concluding that the use of a bridge above an access road to enable the animals to forage, was unproven.

Part of the land was designated as important for nature conservation due to its mature hedgerows and plant species and the council was concerned that the removal of part of a hedgerow would sever it from the dormice. Since the animals relied heavily on plant species as a food source and used hedgerows to move from location to location, the scheme was unacceptable.

The use of a bridge over which the animals could forage and feed was unproven with limited evidence on its effectiveness the inspector held. Despite there being no objection from Natural England he was not persuaded that the value of the hedgerow would be maintained. It would also create a suburban estate out of character with the area and the removal of a protected silver birch tree.

Inspector: Lucy Gibbons; Hearing

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