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Welsh council avoids prosecution over destruction of dormouse habitat

Cardiff Council has received a community resolution order, evading a prosecution after failing to obtain a licence before destroying a known habitat for dormice.

The council carried out the work at the Northern Meadows site, which was to the European Protected Species (EPS), in Whitchurch in 2021. 

The meadow was cleared, and fruit trees were planted. However, it did so without obtaining a EPS licence from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to support the work.

PC Mark Powell investigated the reports and confirmed that the habitat had been destroyed.

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He reported that that incident had occurred following an error between responsible departments but added that the council "worked tirelessly" to improve its practices after discovering its mistake.

PC Powell said that the investigation served to improve the working relationship between NRW and the local authority "to ensure that errors such as this are prevented from occurring again".

He added that new methods had been adopted by all departments in response to the incident. In particular, the council agreed to:

  • Review all work on council-owned sites across the city to ensure that work is undertaken in the appropriate manner in future. (It is apparent that dormice are being discovered in more locations than the council has previously been aware of due to an increase in surveys being undertaken for development).
  • Work with colleagues in Planning and across the council to share information regarding ecological surveys and liaise with NRW Species Team on a regular basis.
  • Convene regular meetings with the council's 'Green Infrastructure Group' (including officers from Parks, Planning, Highways, and Rights of Way) to share information and raise awareness.

PC Powell said: "The cooperation of the Council of the City and County of Cardiff throughout this investigation with Natural Resources Wales and myself should be commended. Whilst this offence has taken place, their commitment to ensure that it is not repeated is refreshing and for that I thank them."

He added: "Whilst my role as a police officer is often to prosecute offenders and I have done so in this case, it should also be recognised that specialist wildlife and rural crime officers can and will when appropriate offer crime prevention and conservation advice. This local authority fully accepted their culpability and going forward their new and improved methods will serve as a benchmark for others to follow."

Cardiff Council has been contacted for a statement.

Adam Carey

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