FOLLOWING a campaign led by Brian May, lead guitarist with Queen, Sainsbury’s has abandoned plans to expand a site at one of its stores in Surrey.

The planned extension to a lorry-loading bay would have meant destruction of around 70 trees and impacted on an important local habitat for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Brian May and colleague Annie Brummer who co-founded the Save me Trust claimed the development at Burpham, Guildford in Surrey would threaten “the very existence” of the local hedgehog population. Under the planning proposals put forward by the supermarket chain 69 trees would have been felled and removed from the site.

Sainsbury’s said the trees would be replaced by 300 (non-specified) plants, but the Save Me Trust went on to claim the project could end up destroying an “essential wildlife habitat” and subsequently launched a petition urging the company to rethink their plans.

It did not take too long for the message to get through because just a few weeks later on 11th November, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told the press: “The communities we serve are at the heart of everything we do. We have listened to the concerns with regards to our proposal and have withdrawn our planning application.”

Reports suggest Sainsbury’s will go back to the drawing board to redesign its development plans to ensure the ancient woodland buffer zone remains untouched. In a joint statement, Brian May and Anne Brummer said: “From our conversations, it’s clear that Sainsbury’s shares our goals of sustainability and enhancement of wildlife habitats.”

This important victory for the Save Me Trust is clearly crucial to survival of local hedgehogs but also has much wider implications for the nation’s hedgehog population and wildlife in general. Knowing that high-profile people and organisations are watching their every move, perhaps other pan-national and multi-national corporations will think more carefully before planning to carve up trees and woodland and jeopardise the wildlife that relies on them.

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