The hedgehog is an extraordinary creature with a long and celebrated history in this country. Like you, I am concerned to ensure that its future is similarly bright. I am aware that Hedgehogs are currently protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed using prohibited methods such as crossbows, traps and snares.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee has recently commenced the seventh Quinquennial Review of protected species covered by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The JNCC will, late next year, make evidence-based recommendations to the Secretary of State as to which species warrant additional legal protections to secure their future conservation. I am aware, however, that it is not yet possible to confirm which species, including hedgehogs, may be included in these proposals.
The 25 Year Environment Plan sets out the Government’s ambition for nature recovery and our threatened and iconic species. While the reasons for the decline in numbers of this native species are complex, I would like to reassure you that I understand the role habitat loss plays.
It is therefore welcome that the Government is committed to creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat to provide benefits for species such as the hedgehog. Agri-environment schemes such as Countryside Stewardship will also provide funding to restore, extend and link important habitats and boost food resources for our native species. On top of this, the revised National Planning Policy Framework sets out how the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by providing net gains for biodiversity.