§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware that developers destroyed a number of hedges and woodland at Merry Hill Farm, Dudley, between 16th and 18th May, and whether they will confirm:
- (i)that in the course of this work a large number of birds' nests, eggs and young were destroyed;
- (ii)that the developers, Richardsons Developments Ltd., had no approved roadline, nor had they applied for building regulation approval, at the time the destruction was carried out;
- (iii)that it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to destroy birds' nests, eggs and young in the breeding season unless this destruction is undertaken as an unavoidable part of legitimate development; and
- (iv)why no prosecution has been taken as a result of this action.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
The Merryhill site is within Dudley Enterprise Zone and is covered by the provisions of the statutory planning scheme for the zone. The work undertaken in the period mentioned was permitted development within the scheme and involved scraping and mounding of topsoil in preparation for future redistribution around the site. In this operation, hedges were removed in the central part of the site.
The planning scheme for Dudley Enterprise Zone includes a provisional highway reservation line on the Merryhill site, which has not been prejudiced by the work carried out. In the opinion of the enterprise zone authority (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council) scraping of the topsoil and associated operations did not require building regulations approval.
Prosecutions under the Wildlife and Countryside Act are a matter for the police. In this instance police officers visited the site while operations were in progress and decided to take no further proceedings in the matter.