Nonsensical to have protections for newts but not for hedgehogs, says MP

The MP for Epsom and Ewell is a hedgehog champion.

Hedgehogs at West Hatch RSPCA Wildlife centre
Hedgehogs at West Hatch RSPCA Wildlife centre

It makes no sense to have expansive protections for newts but not for hedgehogs, a Conservative former cabinet minister has said.

On the sixth day of the Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons, Chris Grayling told ministers on the frontbench about his one “disappointment” in the Government’s policy and legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session: the lack of legislation on conservation.

The MP for Epsom and Ewell, and hedgehog champion, spoke about the “urgent need” for a “modernised framework for wildlife protection” and announced he will be tabling an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill to require a full wildlife survey of every development site.

Cabinet meeting
Chris Grayling (David Mirzoeff/PA)

He claimed it makes “no sense” to have protections for newts, which are numerous, but not for hedgehogs, which are in decline.

The former transport secretary said: “If I have a disappointment in this Queen’s Speech, it’s that the legislation I was hoping for on conservation has slipped beyond this session.”

He went on: “We urgently need to take forward the progress we have made and to put in place a modernised framework for wildlife protection in this country.

“For example, it makes no sense to have expansive protections in place for newts, which are numerous here, but not for creatures like the hedgehog, which have declined so much.

“I’ve pushed for the hedgehogs to have greater legal protection. I look forward to this happening in the next session, at least.

“But there are steps that can be taken now. When the Levelling Up Bill comes before the House, I will be tabling an amendment if the Government has not already acted, to require a full wildlife survey of every development site, and if vulnerable species are found there, there should be a legal duty to relocate them to an appropriate habitat elsewhere.”

The MP for Epsom and Ewell added: “We need growth. We need more houses. But the cavalier approach to local wildlife cannot be the consequence.”

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