• CarolineShah

We need to act now to save 160 million year old species from possible extinction in England

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

The stag beetle is now only found in Greater London and the South East of England

Please donate now so we can challenge the London Plan at judicial review

Natural England, the natural conservation body for England, has said that is is "satisfied" that the London Plan - which lays out massive development targets across London over the next 20 years - will not have an adverse impact on protected habitats and species across London. The Inspectors of the London Plan also accepted that the London Plan met legal requirements to show that the plan will not have an adverse impact on protected sites

However, Natural England have told me that their conclusions are based on informal opinion and are not supported by any formal decision-making process

We must not accept a plan that could cause massive destruction to protected habitats and species on this basis especially when I have accessed expert and scientific evidence and opinion that undermines both Natural England and the Inspectors' conclusions

We need to take the London Plan to judicial review in order to show that the effect of massive development on the stag beetle and other protected habitats and species has NOT been properly considered

For example, many of the areas that will experience huge levels of development in the London Plan are near to habitats that are protected for their stag beetle populations - Richmond Park SAC, Wimbledon Common SAC and Epping Forest SAC

Plans for The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames - which borders Richmond Park SAC and Wimbledon Common SAC - show at least a 70% increase in population by 2040. Meanwhile there are plans for development all around Epping Forest SAC on a scale never seen before

This means that the number of visitors to these protected habitats will multiply in just 20 years

Take the 5% increase in annual visits to Richmond Park that people living in the council-owned Alton Estate in Roehampton - which is about to be redeveloped at many times existing density - will make, assuming that every new resident visits the park only two times a week. Then multiply this by hundreds of times for every new development planned in and around the park

This mass influx of people means the stag beetle faces increased threats from killing, trampling and disturbance and destruction of the dead wood habitat in which its larvae are present, as well as damage and destruction of ancient and veteran trees on which the beetle relies in the long term for its survival. More people in these ancient habitats also increases the presence of corvids, such as rooks and crows, which are the main predators of the stag beetle. More demolition and construction and more people living around protected habitats also means more pollution. Pollution is proven to be harmful to the fungi on which ancient trees rely to maintain their root strength

All London boroughs will also be required to allow redevelopment of what are called "small sites" which includes people's existing homes and gardens, where the existing buildings will be demolished and the whole site - including the garden - will be built upon. Stag beetles are frequently found in people's gardens, having laid their eggs in dead wood or tree stumps that have been left in situ. These micro-habitats will be destroyed when these sites are sold for redevelopment with the result that the stag beetle's habitats will become too fragmented and isolated for it to survive in the long-term outside of larger, protected habitats which will themselves eventually be exhausted. This will lead in the long term to the inevitable extinction of the stag beetle in Greater London:

"A massive suitable habitat can be exploited for several generations of larvae for several years until the complete disintegration of it"

Ecology, Franciscolo 1997

Greater London is the largest area in which the stag beetle now survives in England. The only other two areas where it has a significant presence are the south coast and Suffolk. You can see a map of the 2019 distribution of reported sightings of the stag beetle here*

*Please be aware that these figures from public reporting of sightings and not from observation based on scientific methods. Sightings in 2019 are likely to be much higher than normal given people being at home during the Covid-19 lockdown and are likely to include the same stag beetle being reported several times

If we want to protect our ancient habitats and species from the London Plan, we need to act now

Please donate and help protect nature for itself and for all of us and for all of our children

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