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Prosecution Case Studies

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Topic: Prosecution Case Studies
Posted By: calumma
Subject: Prosecution Case Studies
Date Posted: 02 Dec 2004 at 8:17am
A recent event has led me to give this issue some thought and it might be useful to start a thread that details and discusses the various herp related prosecutions that have come about since the Wildlife and Countryside Act was first introduced. If anybody would like to contribute please keep the information to that that is available in the public domain. A reference to the source of the material would be useful. If folks have personal accounts that they wish to describe please don't include any information that may compromise your future ability to 'do the right thing'...

Lee Brady

Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant - Email

Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 05 Dec 2004 at 1:14pm


Hello Lee

As you may know the EARG has knowledge of only one successful prosecution in Essex - Mr Turner and his horses - however I could highlight recent failures of the Essex Police to mount successful prosecutions on GCN sites such as at the Red Cow Pub in Chrishall where a GCN pond was filled in despite the owners of the pub knowing that a small population of GCN was present - The building of two large houses on terrestrial habitat of a gcn population again in Chrishall, North Essex - the pond is literally yards away from the site

 There are failures to stop work on sites that are clearly illegal - re Wycke Hill Business Park - experienced by G Fairchild - apparently the police couldn't do anything as the developer had a DEFRA license!

There are also many excuses made for not attending sites where ponds are being filled in reptiles crushed by machinery etc - on the whole the situation is a bit dire - but hopefully the EARG is going to be putting on a workshop for the Essex Police next year in April - this will improve the understanding of the ecology of the GCN (at least)

and this will hopefully help with enforcement


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 05 Dec 2004 at 9:46pm

Without mentioning Wycke Hill and its non existent DEFRA license, whooops I just did mention it... I think it would be really useful to produce a list of action points for arg members and the public on how to deal with apparent wildlife crimes.. any chance of getting this off the ground??

Replies to this post moved to a new thread 'Legislation Information' in the interest of clarity -

Posted By: Chris Monk
Date Posted: 06 Dec 2004 at 8:31pm

I am not aware of any prosecutions in Derbyshire, although I have been involved in three police investigations into GCN sites.

One of which was started by the local English Nature Team after a "respectable" consultancy started work to clear out drainage ditches. I attended a site visit but played no further part. No legal action was taken, as it resulted from an incorrect grid reference for the location of GCN's but I understand that certain persons in the firm lost their newt licences. (The result was a major habitat and pond creation scheme on site, now being followed by a further scheme on adjacent land so the GCN population has soared & is in better condition than ever).

A previous incident involved using the local police and a Council planning enforcement action to get access to a site just over the border in Sheffield. I did a report for the police stating that the 1994 Regulations had been breached (deliberate damage to gcn habitat/places of shelter). The police consulted the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), who decided not to go ahead as the owner was now obeying Council enforcement notices and also called in ecological consultants to design a mitigation scheme.

The last incident eighteen months ago involved the new owner of an old tip bulldozing the whole area, despite my having told them of the presence of GCN and the Council mineral planners telling them the same thing. Despite doing a proper police witness statement for the Police Wildlife Liaison Officer, (as also was done by the Council planners), the police solicitor decided not to even forward it to the CPS. It was only a semi-temporary pond with a small GCN population but one of our reliable recorders had found the site only 2 years earlier.

Lee - Someone else who has vast experience of contraventions of legal protection by developers and consultants that should have resulted in prosecutions but didn't is Dave Bentley HGBI NW regional rep.


Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group

Posted By: calumma
Date Posted: 07 Dec 2004 at 9:19am

Thanks for that very useful summary. What seems to be apparent is that the likelihood of the police (or cps) taking a wildlife crime seriously depends upon several issues. However, I'm guessing that ultimately it depends on the individual police officer involved.

John, it may still be useful if you could give a summary of the successful prosecution - or at least include a link to somewhere that it is described.

Lee Brady

Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant - Email

Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 07 Dec 2004 at 11:01am

Well I have found two links that describe the case - I couldnt find the actual proceedings but - -

these are pretty much correct as Sgt Saunders wrote the RSPB article




Posted By: calumma
Date Posted: 07 Dec 2004 at 10:45pm
Very useful information Jon. Anyone else know of successful prosecutions under either WCA or Habitat Regulations?

Lee Brady

Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant - Email

Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 01 Apr 2005 at 6:53pm


Dear All

I have been asked to explain a bit more about the two cases relating to the Red Cow Pub and the site at 30 High Street, Chrishall.

Here are the two planning applications as listed on the Uttlesford District Council website

Red Cow Pub

'Planning application number = UTT/0689/00/FUL - Enlargement of existing public house car park, formation of childrens play area, outdoor seating and landscaping including retention of pond.

Conditions to this planning application included retaining the pond'

'30 High Street, Chrishall

UTT/1649/03/FUL - Demolition of dwelling and construction of two detached houses. Detached garage

Condition - 15.  No development or demolition shall take place until a comprehensive survey has been undertaken of the area covered by this application and the immediately surrounding area, in order to identify Great Crested Newt, bats and other wildlife likely to be present on the site. This survey shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority in writing and suitable protective measures undertaken during implementation. REASON: The site shows evidence of wildlife and their protection is required in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.'

Now the two sites were investigated by the Essex Police following call outs by various people and organisations. The Red Cow Pub case was determined by the CPS that there was a lack of evidence to prove that the pond was 'recklessly' destroyed.

At 30 High Street Chrishall the house was apparently demolished before an ecological survey was carried out on the pond - the applicant was unwilling to do anything for the newts living within this piece of land when this was brought to his attention.

The neighbour of the property, where the newt pond is located called the EARG and we in turn called the police/or we instructed the neighbour to call the police (cant really remember).

The Essex police visited and inspected the site -  The advice given to the developer was to contruct a newt exclusion fence around the site to prevent any newts from wandering into the site. This was while a License was applied for from DEFRA. 

The EARG is currently asking for the ecological information contained within DEFRA license returns for Essex since 2001 - We will hope that the ecological survey undertaken by Elmaw Consulting, -  for the 30 high street chrishall, would be contained in these returns while the record for a single crested newt was supplied by EECOS ltd in 2001 for the Red Cow Pub.

The Police it seems did their best to follow up on these two cases - I would like to point out that the EARG will be working closely with the Police in the future - we are putting on a workshop for Police Wildlife Crime Officers and we are currently working on a tricky case in Roydon with the help of LEHART. Will Atkins has determined the presence of Crested Newts in the pond which was being filled in - Essex police were instrumental in stopping this work in February of this year after a complaint was made to Epping Forest Council - I will keep you all posted on how this tricky case pans out as the private land owner has become frustrated with the delay so we need to plan what to do next carefully - we are in touch with English Nature, the police and we hope to get a successful outcome without the need for prosecution.








Posted By: herpetologic2
Date Posted: 01 Apr 2005 at 7:02pm


The case is tricky because it is a private home owner who wants to reduce the pond size which takes up 90% of the garden area - the plan is to provide a lawn area for his young family - but we have a protected species issue here and with Crested Newts a license will be required to infill part of the pond - this is only if a license can be obtained -

We are now looking out for an independant consultant or consultants who can help with this case - as the EARG would like to keep being a third party observer. I cannot take up the case due to the possible conflict of interest of me being the current coordinator of the EARG and a paid consultant. I tend to work on other jobs which have not involved the EARG directly. If any local consultants would be able to help then please get in touch.




Posted By: jopedder
Date Posted: 14 Mar 2006 at 11:05am

I've just quickley skimmed through this thread, but will read in more detail later, so apologies if this includes any repitition, but I've started to compile a list of test cases from public websites, two of these are relevant, one being the Essex horses, the other is detailed below:

species date fine costs reckless/intentional disturb/kill special Full Text
Great Crested Newt Mar-05 1000.00 500.00 reckless disturb
In March 2005 a man was fined ˙1,000 and ordered to pay ˙500 costs after being found guilty of recklessly disturbing great crested newts. Despite advice given by English Nature Peter Dennis of Spennymoor, County Durham went ahead and cleared a pond of weeds on land that he was developing. He was aware that if newts were in the pond at this time they would be at risk of harm. Mr Dennis admitted that he removed the weed and then did not check it after removal.



Posted By: badgerboy
Date Posted: 31 Jan 2007 at 5:33pm
See my message posted the other day under Great Crested Newts about a GCN case.


Posted By: Matt Harris
Date Posted: 12 Apr 2007 at 8:12am
Bit of planning caselaw for you

Wychavon District Council
Inspector/Reporter: Anthony Thickett
Address: Stanway Screens Ltd, Kemerton Road, Bredon Worcestershire, GL20 7LX

A mixed use scheme comprising the erection of 38 dwellings and an employment unit lying within part of a conservation area, was rejected after an inspector expressed reservations about the adequacy of the appellantsĂ ecological survey.
The appellantsĂ survey recorded the presence of slow worms, grass snakes and bats. The council accepted that the impact of the scheme on bats could be mitigated through appropriate conditions. However it remained concerned about the extent to which the slow worm and grass snake habitats had been accurately recorded noting that the survey was undertaken in July and August when April, May and September were the ideal months for recording.
The inspector agreed that in July and August the air temperatures were likely to be higher than in the optimum months. This meant that the reptiles would not need as long to warm up and reach their active temperature before moving off. Consequently it was likely that the appellantsĂ survey did not record the full extent of the habitat nor the total number of animals within the site.
Although the appellants proposed to translocate the habitat onto another site, the inspector expressed doubts as to its effectiveness. He noted the advice given by English Nature, which stated that finding a suitable site could take many weeks of survey work, fact finding and liaison. However there was no evidence that the appellants had undertaken such an extensive search, having chosen an area which had originally been proposed as public open space, he noted. In his view the chosen site would be inferior in terms of size and quality and overall he decided that the appellants had failed to achieve a good understanding of the needs of the reptile population within the site. This conclusion justified dismissing the appeal.

Local Authority Ecologist

Posted By: Vicar
Date Posted: 12 Apr 2007 at 11:35am
OOh, I know that area, and am pleasantly gobsmacked at the council's thoroughness ! Do we know the consultancy which undertook the survey ? 

Steve Langham - Chairman">
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group

Posted By: Matt Harris
Date Posted: 13 Apr 2007 at 4:20am
The only information I have is on the "Planning" website, from which I cut and pasted the above eaction=abstract&cfID=40946&b1=View+Abstract

Local Authority Ecologist

Posted By: Matt Harris
Date Posted: 26 Feb 2008 at 7:09am
Not prosecution, but planning caselaw again:

DC Casebook: Waste management - Newt habitat blocks recycling growth
Waste management
Planning, 22 February 2008
The extension of a recycling site in Glamorgan has been rejected following a ruling that the appellant had failed to demonstrate that it would not result in the loss of the terrestrial habitat of a protected species.
The council argued that the site was within 500m of a pond known to be a great crested newt habitat. The newts were a European protected species under schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994 and the Conservation (Natural Habitats) (Amendment) Regulations 2007. The council presented survey results indicating that newt eggs were found on the margins of the pond.
The inspector noted that terrestrial hibernation habitats for such newts were known to span this distance. He found no evidence that the woodland between the pond and the appeal site could not support a wildlife corridor and a refuge for the species or that the area that drained into the pond would not be part of the newts' habitat.
The Countryside Council for Wales had objected to the proposal because there was insufficient information to assess the possible effects on the great crested newt population or the presence on the site of habitat that could support the species. The inspector agreed that this contravened national advice set out in the regulations, Planning Policy Wales and development plan policy.
DCS Number 100-052-806
Inspector Iwan Lloyd; Hearing.

Local Authority Ecologist

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