North East employer Banks Mining has signed up to a new campaign being led by a County Durham woman which aims to help protect local hedgehogs from harm.
Jacqui Clarke runs the Hedgehog Hotel, a hedgehog rescue and rehabilitation centre for native British hedgehogs which is based in Dipton near Consett, and is working to persuade local councils, businesses and members of the public across the region to take a few minutes to make sure that there are no hedgehogs in the way of what they’re doing.
Jacqui approached Banks Mining to sign up to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s ‘Hog Heroes’ campaign for its operations at its Bradley surface mine, which sits off the A692 between Leadgate and Dipton – and the family-owned firm has agreed to do so.
Reminder stickers have been placed on a range of machinery and equipment at Bradley to encourage the team to check around the area for hedgehogs before starting work, while information is being made available on site around how best to spot hedgehogs and their nests.
Jacqui is a registered carer with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and works closely with a network of hedgehog carers in Durham and its surrounding communities to save hundreds of hedgehogs between them each year.
She says: “Hedgehogs have seen a huge decline over the past couple of decades, mainly due to more roads and traffic and the fencing-off of gardens. Sadly, we are constantly admitting severely-injured hedgehogs with life- threatening injuries, and if we don’t increase awareness, we fear they will soon be on the endangered list.
“Our aim is to persuade local councils, businesses and members of the public to do a simple five minute check around hedges and gardens for wildlife before operating things like strimmers and gardening equipment.
“It’s a small step that will make a big difference to the safety of thousands of our spiky friends, and we would also love to encourage people to make ‘hedgehog highways’ to their gardens to allow them to roam more freely.
“A simple CD-sized hole in a garden fence will help enormously, while leaving a shallow bowl of water and some dried complete cat biscuits will encourage these loveable visitors into your garden.
“It’s amazing to get a well-known local business like Banks involved with this project and we’d love to see many more companies, individuals and local authorities following their example.”
The eventual restoration and landscaping of the Bradley site will contain a diverse range of ecological habitats including a mixture of a new woodlands, wildflower grassland, species rich hedgerows with hedgerow trees, ponds and scrub, with agricultural land and footpaths.
Around 10,500 trees will also be planted at the Bradley site in total between now and the end of the restoration process, which is due to be complete by August 2021.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at Banks Mining, adds: “We already undertake a great deal of work to protect and support wildlife habitats around all our surface mine sites, both during and after coaling.
“Surface mines provide a home for a very diverse variety of different bird, insect and mammal species during their operations, with skylarks, peregrine falcons, deer and otters often being seen around them, and the undisturbed space that the overburden mounds provide often mean that their populations significant increase while we’re working.
“We have extensive plans in place to create a wide range of wildlife habitats during the eventual restoration of the Bradley site, and are very happy to enhance this commitment by backing Jacqui’s excellent work.”
For further information on the Hedgehog Hotel, please visit facebook.com/TheHedgehogHotel