Councillors slam 'ridiculous' criteria for wildlife road signs

EDDC's countryside team are showing people how to help hedgehogs

North Somerset Council has stepped up its campaign to save the area's hedgehog population. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council has stepped up its campaign to improve safety measures for hedgehogs in the area following frustration with Government criteria for road warning signs.

Members of the council have written to North Somerset MP, Dr Liam Fox, calling on him to raise the issue with other ministers.

Green Party councillor, Bridget Petty, labelled the Department for Transport criteria, specifically indicating to the 'evidence of personal injury accidents caused by small mammals' to people before a sign can be installed in an area as 'ridiculous'.

North Somerset councillor Bridget Petty. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

North Somerset councillor Bridget Petty. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

Cllr Petty said: "Residents have contacted the council about the safety of hedgehogs and small mammals on our roads.

"In 2019, traffic signs were unveiled featuring a hedgehog but could only be put up by the DFT and not North Somerset Council.

"However, a freedom of information request showed that none were put up in 2020 and I am not surprised given the ridiculous criteria for them."

The criteria Cllr Petty mentions require 'evidence that small mammals are encountered regularly at the location in significant numbers' as well as 'evidence of personal injury accidents caused by small mammals'.

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Cllr Petty added: "It is absurd - I have never heard of an accident injuring a human that was caused by a hedgehog."

In the meantime, North Somerset Council have begun to distribute their own makeshift signs across the district.

Cllr Steve Bridger

Cllr Steve Bridger. - Credit: Steve Bridger

Yatton's independent councillor, Steve Bridger, has welcomed this initiative and echoed Cllr Petty's thoughts on the original criteria.

Cllr Bridger said: "I am very pleased we are actively looking at a way of navigating around the overly prescriptive DFT guidance on this by looking at installing our own signage."

A recent study, jointly funded by wildlife charity People's Trust for Endangered Species and Nottingham Trent University, suggested that up to 335,000 hedgehogs could be dying each year on roads across the UK.

Ms Petty added: "It is great to come up with a solution to protect hedgehogs and other animals as they begin to come out from hibernating in the winter months.”

"We still wish for the DFT to change its criteria but until then we will continue to work creatively as best we can."

A petition has been launched for the DTF to change its criteria and can be signed by logging on to www.actionnetwork.org/petitions/lets-protect-hedgehogs-2

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