“The public have told us that protecting wildlife is important to them – so my message to house builders is to harness this support and get building in a way that protects the environment for the next generation.” (Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, now previous Communities Secretary for the UK Government)
The development industry in Scotland is already active in protecting wildlife.
Many will recall the media coverage in late 2017 surrounding the inclusion of wildlife bridges in the development of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, in areas where the carriageway runs through woodland habitat. With mammal-proof fencing to guide animals, such as deer, badgers and squirrels, towards the bridges while identifying safe-crossing points, this measure was praised by the local community, and said to be “the first of its kind in Scotland.”
In the same year, in conjunction with the RSPB, Barratt Developments plc won a prestigious ‘NextGeneration’ innovation award for their production of a new brick that doubles as a nesting box for swifts. It is hoped the new bricks will serve to boost swift numbers across the UK by providing suitable homes at locations where swift numbers and nesting sites have experienced the biggest decline.
The RSPB identified Edinburgh as one of the ten locations across the UK as an area of decline, and Barratt wasted little time in utilising the ‘swift bricks’ in their Portobello developments.
From implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act, it will be necessary for planning authorities to prepare forestry and woodland strategies to identify woodlands of high nature conservation value in the authority’s area, and set out their policies and proposals as to the development of forestry and woodland, the protection and enhancement of such woodlands, and resilience to climate change. Higher protection for woodland habitats will have a ‘knock-on’ effect in the conservation of wildlife in the longer term.