A HAMPSHIRE man who destroyed a 'valuable' habitat for a protected species has been slapped with a fine.

James Rolph destroyed the habitat of dormice while clearing land ready for development in Swanwick, Fareham.

Appearing at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court, the 28-year-old admitted responsibility for completely destroying hedgerow and shrubbery which was a valuable and rich habitat for dormice.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Rolph, of Upham, Hampshire, was fined £1,000. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100 and court costs of £85.

Knightsgate UK Ltd, the owner of the land, also pleaded guilty.

The company allowed the land to be cleared by heavy machinery even though they had received an Environmental Consultant’s report which made it clear that protected species were onsite.

Hampshire Chronicle:

The Crown Prosecution Service claims that was a deliberate act on their part because they wanted to avoid paying approximately £68,000 to comply with the relevant legislation and clear the site in a way which would protect the dormice.

Knightsgate UK Ltd will now face Proceeds of Crime proceedings at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Mark Gammon, CPS Wessex Senior Crown Prosecutor and Wildlife Lead, says: “Dormice are a legally protected species whose populations have undergone a severe decrease in the UK over the last century. This is due, in part at least, to the destruction of their habitats and resting places for the purposes of development.

Hampshire Chronicle:

"Rolph didn’t take sufficient care and did not stop the destruction of the site to check properly that it was ok to proceed.

"It is currently National Mammal Awareness Week, and I would like to make it clear that destroying or damaging the habitat of protected species is a criminal offence that will be prosecuted robustly.”