Monmouthshire man prosecuted for destroying valuable wildlife habitat

In a joint operation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Gwent Police and Monmouthshire County Council, a man from Monmouthshire has been successfully prosecuted for destroying a valuable wildlife habitat that was home to a number of protected species.

Nathan Lewis from Itton, appeared before Newport Magistrates on Friday 10 March charged with breaching the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) at a site near Caerwent off the A48 in Monmouthshire.

In January 2023, Mr Lewis excavated the site using plant machinery without the relevant species licensing from NRW or planning permission from Monmouthshire County Council.

The area is known to be a significant breeding site for a number of European protected species, including dormice, bats, badgers, great crested newts, grass snakes and slow worms as well as a mix of rare flora and fauna.

Mr Lewis was in possession of a detailed ecological survey report that had been commissioned recently as part of his development ambition for the site but chose to ignore the report.

The site, which spans over 10 acres, contained a number of European protected species and rare flora and fauna. Mr Lewis damaged and destroyed habitat amounting to 3 acres.

After pleading guilty in court, the Magistrates ordered Mr Lewis to pay £1,760 in fines and costs.

PC Mark Powell on secondment with Natural Resources Wales Industry Regulation team said:

Officers from Natural Resources Wales are successfully working with police forces across Wales, Local Authority Biodiversity Teams and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing wildlife and rural crime offences. Partnership working has never been so productive.
It's so important to preserve already dwindling protected native species such as Dormice and other important and endangered species such as bats, slow worms and grass snakes. This case is most disturbing due to the fact that the dormice were hibernating in situ at the time and would have had no means of escape. We welcome the fine, which I believe will go a long way to deter others from committing future offences.

Cllr. Catrin Maby, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment said:

At a time of nature crisis in Wales, we are pleased to support Gwent Police in upholding protected species legislation by reporting crimes, supporting police officers with evidence gathering and providing ecological advice on site.

To report an environmental incident, please contact NRW’s Incident communication line open 24/7, on 0300 065 3000.

To report an environmental crime please call 101.

In an emergency, always dial 999