House builders will now have to include hedgehog highways in new developments.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP announced the news earlier this week, much to the joy of The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).
Hedgehogs are being given such attention thanks to the petition BHPS spokesperson Hugh Warwick, set up with change.org - which now has 583,000 signatures.
He met with Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse MP, to ask him to add a condition to planning guidelines requiring hedgehog highways be included in new developments.
Mr Warwick said: “The fact that we have got the government to change planning law is a great victory for hedgehogs and also for the wildlife-loving public who put their considerable political muscle behind this campaign.”
The announcement said that “From submitting proposals to councils to then building new homes, house builders should think about the long-term impact of their developments on the local ecosystem, both during and after construction.”
“This includes greater emphasis on using innovative ways to allow nature to thrive - such as drainage areas to create attractive wetlands for birds and amphibians to live alongside people.”
Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “We have been campaigning to protect hedgehogs for 37 years now and this is one of the most significant breakthroughs we have had.
"Hedgehog numbers are declining dramatically - and house building is set to increase dramatically. This announcement will ensure that new developments, rather than further damage vulnerable hedgehog populations, may actually encourage them to flourish.”
She added: “Hedgehogs are the nation’s favourite animal – they top polls time and time again! We can do so much to help them by making our gardens hedgehog friendly. But unless the hedgehogs can get in - then the gardens are useless to these wonderful, charismatic creatures.”
Research funded by Hedgehog Street, a collaborative project between BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species, has shown that hedgehogs need considerable areas of unfragmented land to be able to thrive.
Modern housing tends to come with impenetrable fences.
This announcement will ensure that small holes in the base of fences come as standard.
The holes need only be a 13cm square - the size of a CD case. And already fence manufacturers have made them available to the public for new fencing projects or to retro fit into boundaries.