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Chris Grayling leads hedgehog rescue charge for ‘protected animal’ status

Harriet Brewis
·2-min read
<p>Chris Grayling is calling for hedgehogs to be 'as well protected as any other popular but threatened British animal’</p> (Jeremy Selwyn/Getty Images)

Chris Grayling is calling for hedgehogs to be 'as well protected as any other popular but threatened British animal’

(Jeremy Selwyn/Getty Images)

A group of MPs are calling for hedgehogs to be awarded increased protections in a bid to boost dwindling numbers of “Britain’s favourite animal”.

Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill which would help safeguard the spikey mammals’ nesting sites.

By adding hedgehogs to the list of protected animals under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, developers would be legally obliged to search for the critters before planning a project.

A 2018 report suggested UK hedgehog numbers had halved since 2000.

Hedgehog numbers have plummetted across the UK over the past decadeRoyal Parks Foundation
Hedgehog numbers have plummetted across the UK over the past decadeRoyal Parks Foundation

The prickly creatures are protected under the existing Act, which makes it illegal to kill or capture them using certain methods.

But Mr Grayling said his amendment would sort out “proper protection” for them.

Mr Grayling said: “It seems wrong to me, for example, that whenever a developer has to carry out a wildlife survey before starting work on a project that the hedgehog is not on anyone’s radar.

“It is Britain’s favourite animal. Its numbers are declining.

“And it should be as well protected as any other popular but threatened British animal.

“We worry about whether we are going to damage the habitats of badgers and bats. It’s time we worried about the hedgehog too.

“I hope that this amendment will encourage Defra, the Government department involved, to sort out proper protection for hedgehogs.”

Mr Grayling’s amendment is currently supported by 13 Conservative colleagues, including former cabinet ministers Liam Fox and Dame Cheryl Gillan.

Day one of the Bill’s report stage takes place in the House of Commons on Tuesday, with Mr Grayling expecting his amendment to be debated in future weeks.

The Bill seeks to write environmental principles in UK law for the first time.

This includes setting targets for air quality, water, biodiversity and waste reduction, and outlining what standard must be achieved and by what date.

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