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Queen’s Brian May Leads Fight to Stop Sainsbury’s Destroying Burpham Hedgehog Habitat

Published on: 13 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 15 Oct, 2020

Brian May and Anne Brummer surveying for hedgehogs

Queen superstar Brian May is leading the fight against a bid by grocery giant Sainsbury’s to destroy a wildlife habitat in Guildford, taking back land formerly set aside.

When planning permission was given for the Sainsbury’s store in Burpham it was a condition that alternate land was given to mitigate the impact of the building works.

If a new planning application is approved, the expansion would allow development within a section of Local Green Space designated in the Burpham Neighbourhood Plan, felling 67 trees and threatening a hedgehog population fighting for survival.

Save the Burpham Hedgehogs, in a statement from Brian May and Anne Brummer of the Amazing Grace Project, said: “Hedgehogs are on the edge of disappearing forever in Britain. Faced with the effects of climate change, pollution, poisons, and habitat destruction, they really are up against it.

“The loss of even the smallest amount of wild space brings about a huge decline in their sustainability due to loss of vital foraging and undisturbed hibernation spots.

“Sainsbury’s, chasing bigger profits in their highly lucrative lockdown online business, have applied to take back much of this vital habitat. At present, the store is surrounded by a wild buffer area of shrubs and trees that support bats, hedgehogs and thousands of other precious invertebrates and birds. This plan would destroy it all.”

In the past 20 years, British wildlife populations have declined by more than 55%. One of the most threatened species is hedgehogs. Their decline has been dramatic in urban areas, where they were once a common sight.

The Save-Me Trust has been focussing on awareness and protection of the humble hedgehog in recent years, through the Amazing Grace campaign, which has inspired a new drive to instigate hedgehog-friendly areas in Surrey, through projects involving villages, schools and the local community. This project, they claim, will undo much of their good work.

A hedgehog, an aerial view and a plan of the proposed development.

Their statement continued: “In this area, hedgehogs stand a chance of regeneration if their habitat is protected. The new development proposed by Sainsbury’s threatens the existence of hedgehogs in this part of Surrey.

“The little animals are included in the UK Biodiversity action plan and on the Red List of International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) for British Mammals.”

“What seems like a small space to Sainsbury’s is actually a five-star hotel and superstore for wildlife, providing nesting space and food for a wildlife population squeezed into ever decreasing habitats.

“Wild animals survive in an area because it supplies their basic needs for food, shelter and water. The destruction of any one of those components means death for them. They cannot simply relocate. The trees this development would remove are the natural breeding grounds for essential insects and fungi that support this tiny ecosystem and the impact of their removal would be catastrophic.”

May, an animal rights activist and conservationist with a doctorate in astro-physics, who lives near Wentworth golf club, said the supermarket needed to be reminded of their obligations over the Red List, and think again, in the light of the damage their proposal would cause to local wildlife.

Sainsbury’s profits to March this year were £586 million. The company has made huge profits during the pandemic, and now wants to expand its online sales. But local wildlife would pay a terrible price.

The Save Me Trust is appealing for support to sign their “Call to Action” to save the Burpham hedgehogs and other wildlife.

See also: First Test for ‘Local Green Space’ Designation as Sainsbury’s Seeks Store Extension


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test 9 Responses to Queen’s Brian May Leads Fight to Stop Sainsbury’s Destroying Burpham Hedgehog Habitat

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    October 13, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    I remember when Sainsbury first got permission to build on this site and the restrictions that were put in place at the time. Sadly some were to the detriment of the locality.

    More recently came the disastrous permission for Aldi to be located in such an unsuitable place, nearby. Yes, of course, we need supermarkets but only because we have killed the small businesses that used to serve people’s food needs.

    But more than anything we need to protect our green spaces. We cannot build over everything. Have we not listened to Sir David Attenborough at all?

    We need to think seriously about the negative impact of planning decisions in Guildford Borough, on this occasion in Burpham. Eventually, as I think most people can see, it affects us all.

    • Jack Bayliss Reply

      October 14, 2020 at 8:36 pm

      There may be good reasons for opposing this development but I doubt if hedgehogs is one of them. What evidence is there of hedgehogs in that area? The main reason why there are so few hedgehogs seen these days is the proliferation of badgers who not only compete with hedgehogs for food such as worms, but also eat the hedgehogs themselves.

      • Tammy Holliday Reply

        October 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm

        I live adjacent to the area and we have a family of hedgehogs that come to our garden most nights. As well as bats and other animals such as woodpeckers and foxes.

        I have both video and photographic evidence of them.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 14, 2020 at 7:02 am

    I wonder if Brian May is aware of the GBC Local Plan, which will do untold damage to our environment and wildlife. Not only hedgehogs but populations of skylarks, reptiles and so on will be decimated on all the green belt sites GBC has earmarked for destruction.

    Perhaps he would add his voice to those insisting on a review of this ruinous plan?

    • Harry Eve Reply

      October 14, 2020 at 3:50 pm

      And it is already happening in West Horsley. Worrying for this particular application is that Neighbourhood Plans have been treated with disdain in planning decisions.

  3. Julia Shaw Reply

    October 14, 2020 at 7:04 am

    This land has far more value for its habitat.

  4. Anthony Mallard Reply

    October 18, 2020 at 9:43 am

    It will be very interesting to eventually learn whether the Borough Council’s Planning Department and its Planning Committee take notice of the very clear and substantial objections to the further and unnecessary development of the Sainsbury’s superstore at Burpham or, as in the past, Aldi being a prime example, ignore objections on well argued planning criteria and local knowledge to permit commercial interests to override those of the environment, the Local Plan, other relevant plans and the well-being of local residents.

  5. Hildegard Hill Reply

    October 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Maybe we, the consumers and customers of Sainsbury’s, could try and make a point by shopping instore for a change, or shop elsewhere?

    On another point, why do they need this area, as presumably the car parks will be less used by their online shopping customers?

    I feel we have reached the point where wildlife and green spaces should get the right of way over consumerism.

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