Rare lizards saved by local residents

RARE lizards and slow worms threatened when tonnes of earth were dumped on hibernation nests are thought to have been saved thanks to quick-thinking residents.

Dave Gooderham

RARE lizards and slow worms threatened when tonnes of earth were dumped on hibernation nests are thought to have been saved thanks to quick-thinking residents.

The creatures living in the area, which has been designated a County Wildlife Site, were put at risk by the incident which involved loads of excavated soil from a neighbouring housing development off Cats Lane in Great Cornard, near Sudbury.

Concerned residents alerted Babergh District Council of the potential danger and specialist wildlife consultants have now supervised the careful removal of the earth, which is expected to leave the reptiles unharmed.

Babergh district councillor, Humphrey Todd, who was contacted by worried villagers in Cornard, said: “I was truly impressed by the speed with which Babergh reacted to my advice of a problem for the wildlife on the site - and also very pleased that the developer co-operated so fully to rectify this problem.”

Residents had informed Mr Todd that a “huge amount” of earth had been moved from the development on to the neighbouring wildlife site, which has exceptional populations of common lizard and slow worm protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Most Read

Babergh's environmental protection team immediately investigated the concerns that both protected species, which were hibernating at the time, would suffer severe population loss as a result.

A subsequent inspection of the site confirmed that an unauthorised dumping of earth had taken place and therefore Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Constabulary were kept updated of the situation.

Staff at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who acted as experts to Babergh, advised the council that immediate and careful removal of the extra earth could mean the population might not be affected.

Dr Simone Bullion, the trust's senior conservation officer said: “The Trust welcomed the opportunity to support Babergh when dealing with this wildlife issue, to ensure prompt action which will hopefully result in most of these reptiles being saved.”

Developer, the Camelot Property Group, employed wildlife consultants to supervise the removal of the soil and cleared the site within three weeks of the initial concerns being raised.

John Winders, Babergh's principal development control officer, said: “The council acted immediately and were appreciative the developer understood our position and took remedial action as a priority.

“This is an illustration of how partnership working and communications between a local authority and developer are vital - not only to save protected species from population losses but also to stop enforcement action from being necessary.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter