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Investigation after haven for voles is cleared

PUBLISHED: 17:04 15 December 2008 | UPDATED: 09:19 11 August 2010

BARKING Riverside and Belway Homes have become the focus of an Environment Agency (EA) investigation after they cleared riverbanks which were home to the protected water vole. This is a serious offence, carrying a fine of up to £5,000 for which developers

BARKING Riverside and Belway Homes have become the focus of an Environment Agency (EA) investigation after they cleared riverbanks which were home to the protected water vole.

This is a serious offence, carrying a fine of up to £5,000 for which developers could find themselves in court.

Pictures of the stream, with the vegetation stripped away, were sent to the borough's wildlife officer Sergeant Ian Lee by the EA.

Concerns were raised by both the police and the EA as the water vole was recently made a protected species and their habitat is supposed to be preserved.

Water voles were once common and widespread in Britain but with engineering and dredging of rivers and wetlands being drained many natural riverside habitats have been lost to development.

Another threat to their survival is the American mink which are now living wild in British waterways and preys on the little water vole.

Barking Riverside development work closely with London wildlife and should have paid close attention to preserving habitat while building work is carried out.

In the terms of their planning permission from Barking and Dagenham council developers are expected to pay close attention to environmental and ecological impact on the region.

Sgt Ian Lee said: "We could very well take the developers to court over this.

"The water vole was made a protected species in August this year and as such its habitat should be protected.

"This offence will carry a fine of up to £5,000."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We have visited the site and an investigation is underway.

"We are working with the wildlife crime officer for Barking and Dagenham."

A Barking Riverside spokesman said: "We are aware of this issue, which has affected a small part of the site.

"We are currently working with the Environment Agency as they carry out a standard investigation and hope to find a long-term solution very soon."

A council spokesman said: "We understand one of Barking Riverside Ltd's contractors inadvertently cleared an area for part of a proposed cycle lane associated with the development in advance of the appropriate mitigation methods being undertaken.

"BRL have confirmed that they are working with the Environment Agency to remedy the breach.


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