Press release: Freedom of Information request reveals that SeaChange Sussex ‘acted illegally’ in clearing Queensway Gateway habitat
January 19, 2016 by combehavendefenders
Combe Haven Defenders 
Tuesday 19 January
Contact 07565 967 250
Photo: Contractors clearing dormouse habitat in Hollington Valley on March 16: http://wp.me/a2G6x7-1in
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REVEALS THAT SEACHANGE SUSSEX ‘ACTED ILLEGALLY’ IN CLEARING QUEENSWAY GATEWAY HABITAT
Work started over a week before dormouse licence issued
A Freedom of Information request to see details of a dormouse licence has revealed that contractors working for development company SeaChange Sussex began clearing dormouse habitat in Hollington Valley, on the route of the controversial Queensway Gateway road  more than a week before the licence was issued.
The dormouse licence  was issued by Natural England to SeaChange Sussex on 20 March and makes it clear that work involving dormouse habitat could only take place between 20 and 31 March. However, photographic and video evidence shows that trees containing dormouse tubes were felled on 11 March , whilst bramble scrub on the site was being cut to the ground with mechanical strimmers on 16 March . This work was therefore being carried out without a dormouse licence.
According to the ecology baseline report for the site , ‘It is reasonable to assume that [dormice] are widespread across the study area in optimal habitats’. The report goes on to say  that, ‘Transient seasonal use of bramble scrub…has also been confirmed within the local area and a similar pattern of use of bramble scrub by dormice within the current area is anticipated’. The hazel dormouse is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence, punishable by up to six months in prison, to damage or destroy breeding or hibernation sites without a licence.
Andrea Needham, who made the Freedom of Information request on behalf of Combe Haven Defenders, said, ‘It is clear that SeaChange acted illegally in clearing dormouse habitat without a licence. SeaChange is currently applying for planning permission for its next road, the North Bexhill Access Road, and we are very concerned that if planning permission is granted, they will again ignore the laws on wildlife in order to move forward with the road as fast as possible. We have informed the police wildlife crime unit of the incident and assume they will take action against SeaChange Sussex for this serious breach of wildlife laws.’
Contact 07565 967 250
 The planning application was passed in February 2015, then revoked in June 2015 after a legal challenge and passed for a second time in Dec 2015 – see https://combehavendefenders.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/qgr-passed-again/
 http://wp.me/a2G6x7-1im: photograph taken 11 March, showing dormouse tubes removed from felled trees