Brian May’s wildlife trust saves a Surrey hedgehog habitat

The trust convinced a supermarket to rethink its expansion, saving an area of woodland.

A wildlife charity co-founded by Queen’s guitarist Brian May has successfully saved a hedgehog habitat, following a legal battle with supermarket giant Sainsbury’s.

Alongside his guitar work in Queen, and his degree in astrophysics, wildlife conservation is another one of May’s passions. He has regularly spoken out against badger culling and fox hunting in the UK, and co-founded the Save Me wildlife trust. It’s this trust that successfully prevented the Burpham branch of Sainsbury’s from expanding its lorry loading bay into an area of woodland. The Save Me trust said that the expansion would harm the hedgehog population that lived in the woodland, and more than 2,700 people signed the group’s petition to halt it until a suitable stainable solution could be found.

This campaign and petition successfully persuaded the supermarket to reconsider the plans. Brian May said of the decision: “Vanishing habitat is the most pressing issue facing wildlife today. Sainsbury’s decision is a great step towards ensuring that wild animals already pushed into narrow corridors are able to survive and more importantly to thrive.”

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He added: “We are now confident that solutions can be found for their expansion plans that are sustainable and effective, supporting local flora, fauna and humans.”

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said they had withdrawn the planning application: “We will work in partnership with local groups to redesign our application, so that it doesn’t touch the buffer zone surrounding the ancient woodland and also increases the biodiversity of the area.

“We look forward to working with the community over the coming months especially with groups such as Save Me Trust and the Woodland Trust, on a revised proposal that brings the best possible environmental benefits alongside supporting local jobs and more convenient ways to shop.”

Hedgehog populations in the UK have declined by a large factor over the past few decades, however, gauging their exact population is difficult as there is no reliable way of counting them. In 2018, a study was released revealing that numbers of hedgehogs had decreased by around half since 2000 – citing loss of hedgerows and less insect prey.

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