Hazel Dormice & the Law
The Hazel Dormouse is a small nocturnal arboreal mammal which can be found in woodland and species-rich hedgerows, particularly in the south of England. An increasingly rare species due to habitat loss, fragmentation and the isolation of populations, it is fully protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and the Habitats Regulations (2017). This makes it an offence to kill or injure dormice as well as disturb them in their place of rest (i.e. habitat).
If a development is likely to affect areas of woodland, scrub or linked hedgerows, then a dormouse survey will be required to establish their presence or likely absence.
Phase II dormouse survey
A Phase II dormouse survey is undertaken by setting out nest tubes and/or boxes in woodland (particularly around Hazel) and hedgerows. The tubes/boxes are checked many times between April and November to search for evidence of dormice. Evidence includes droppings, summer nests and dormice themselves. The ground can also be searched for gnawed Hazel nuts and this check can be carried out at any time of year, although late autumn is the most preferred time.
If it is possible ecological mitigation for dormice should be avoided and the areas of hedgerow or woodland retained and protected during development. If this is not possible then a European Protected Species Licence would be required from Natural England and a detailed strategy of mitigation and compensation implemented.
Animex has developed an arboreal wildlife bridge in association with the People's Trust for Endangered Species, which can help mitigate and connect fragmented dormouse habitat. The bridge can be installed in a custom design to ensure the most effective and pragmatic solution for each site. Watch the video presentation below to learn more about the effectiveness of the Animex wildlife bridge.
Ecosupport has several experienced dormouse surveyors and a licensed dormouse worker with considerable expertise in survey, evaluation and mitigation for dormice. We have obtained a number of European Protected Species licences for our clients to deliver beneficial and pragmatic mitigation to meet planning conditions.