Housebuilder commits to ‘hedgehog highways’
A Perth housebuilder has launched a campaign to protect the humble hedgehog.
As part of Hedgehog Awareness Week (3-9 May 2020), A&J Stephen has become one of the first housebuilding firms in Scotland to introduce hedgehog highways, a network of interconnected nature-friendly gardens aimed at protecting the creatures, whose numbers are in decline.
The family firm will also be installing bat and bird boxes to protect other wildlife.
Over the last two decades, the hedgehog population has been halved. In a bid to protect their numbers and allow hedgehogs to roam freely between gardens, small holes (13mm x 13mm) will be incorporated into screen fencing at ground level.
This simple step will allow hedgehogs, which walk more than a mile every night, to access interconnected patches of feeding and nesting habitat. Literature will also be provided to residents with advice on how to retain the hedgehog highways should they wish to change their fencing.
Following an approach by Scone resident Elaine Bannerman, the simple system will be implemented across the firm’s brand new development at Mansfield Park, Scone, where house construction will commence in a matter of weeks. The first phase will see the creation of 42 homes, a combination of bungalows, semi-detached and detached homes, with the first residents moving in by early 2021.
Kay Vass of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “We are thrilled to hear A&J Stephen has made this commitment to creating hedgehog highways. Access to suitable habitat is vital for hedgehogs and offering information to residents will hopefully help them to understand what else they can do to help hedgehogs travelling through their gardens.”
John Stephen, managing director at A&J Stephen, added: “We are delighted to be introducing hedgehog highways within our developments, a move we plan to roll-out across all developments in the months and years ahead.
“As housebuilders, we have an obligation to protect the environment and protecting declining species is very much part of that. Connectivity is vital to allow hedgehogs to find enough food, mates and shelter and creating a network of interconnected nature-friendly gardens is a simple step which we can take to help their numbers recover.”