Sunday 18 March 2018

'Hedgehog summit' to examine future of threatened mammal

Environment Secretary Liz Truss agreed to talks to ensure there is a 'good population' of hedgehogs in the future
Environment Secretary Liz Truss agreed to talks to ensure there is a 'good population' of hedgehogs in the future

Environment Secretary Liz Truss has agreed to a "hedgehog summit" to see what can be done to protect the mammal.

The Conservative frontbencher also wished hedgehogs a "very happy Christmas" as she backed talks on how to ensure there is a "good population" in the future.

Ms Truss's commitment was made to Conservative MP Oliver Colvile ( Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport), who is campaigning to save the hedgehog.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark rejected calls on Monday to issue councils with guidance to make gardens for new houses "more hedgehog friendly" and include a "hedgehog superhighway".

Campaigners want more people to makes holes in their garden fences to create a superhighway for hedgehogs, to prevent numbers of the mammal decreasing further.

Mr Colvile opted to ask about hedgehogs as MPs discussed badger culls in the Commons.

He wished Ms Truss a "very merry Christmas" before asking: "While badgers are responsible for the spread of bovine TB as I understand it, they are no friend of the hedgehog.

"On Monday, (Mr Clark) rejected my and The Times's call for a hedgehog superhighway through back gardens.

"Will you be willing to meet with myself and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for a hedgehog summit?"

Ms Truss replied: "Can I congratulate you on your fantastic campaign and also The Times for raising this vital issue.

"I want hedgehogs too to have a very happy Christmas and I'm very willing to meet with you and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to see what we can do to ensure that we have a good population of hedgehogs in the future."

Speaker John Bercow noted: "Hedgehogs of the world unite and fight."

Later, the Church of England's Commons representative Caroline Spelman reassured Mr Colvile that hedgehogs are a "flagship species" for churchyard conservation group Caring for God's Acre.

During church commissioners' questions, Ms Spelman said: "I think that you have pricked all our consciences with your campaign for the protection of the hedgehog.

"But the Church of England does recognise that its churchyards are important not only as places of burial and quiet reflection but for their characteristic habitats as refuges for wildlife and plants.

"The conservation movement Caring for God's Acre recognises the hedgehog as a flagship species in need of protection."

Press Association

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