doc

A BROMSGROVE rescue centre is leading a campaign for better access for hedgehogs, whose numbers have reduced significantly in the last 50 years.

Willows Hedgehog Rescue, which is run by Charlie Walker and Jayne Lawrence, have launched an e-petition and began lobbying the major housing developers as they attempt to promote a scheme aiming to improve their numbers, which some wildlife organisations estimate to now be less than a million.

“There are many factors in their decline,” Mr Walker said.

“However, there is a relatively recent obstacle that hedgehogs are having to contend with and one that will only grow with time - the humble fence, be it gravel boarded or solid panels.

“Gravel boards don’t sound very threatening however, to a hedgehog, they present an insurmountable barrier excluding them from being able to travel.

“The boards are posing a significant barrier to their long term survival.”

The solution is a very simple one; a four to five inch square ground level gap in one fence per garden, allowing the spiky mammals to travel easily and access much-needed food, water and nesting places.

But many new housing developments, using modern building methods, are not providing gaps leading to numbers dropping in areas that once had healthy hedgehog populations.

Talks have been held with contractors encouraging them to help improve hedgehog fortunes.

Redrow Homes and Newland Homes have offered firm support for the scheme, while Bovis Homes’ new Catshill development, Church Meadows, is becoming one of the first to trial a wildlife corridor with a hedgehog access route.

WM Housing have shown a positive interest, while Barratts are in discussions.

The rescue centre has also launched a new e-petition calling for the Government to introduce legislation requiring all new housing developments to have the fence access for hedgehogs.

“We need to obtain 100,000 signatures to get it considered for debate and we need public support to help us to reach this goal,” Mr Walker added.

The petition can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk, by searching for Hedgehogs & Garden Access in New Builds.

For more details, or developers who want to get involved, email contact@willowshedgehogrescue.co.uk.

Alternatively visit willowshedgehogrescue.co.uk.