Members of the public are being asked for their thoughts on new planning guidelines aimed at helping increase hedgehog numbers across East Cambridgeshire.

The Hedgehog Recovery Design Guidance supplementary planning document – believed to be the first of its kind in the country – asks developers to put measures in place to help hedgehogs when planning new building sites.

This could include incorporating small holes in fences to create Hedgehog Highways so hedgehogs can roam freely from one garden to another.

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This solution is expected to help overcome habitat fragmentation, a significant factor in the recent dip in hedgehog populations.

These miniature openings encourage hedgehogs into gardens, which serve as crucial feeding and nesting habitats.

The guidelines also urge builders to set up native hedgerows and plantings.

These areas can act as spaces for hedgehogs to forage for food and hibernate.

These guidelines come after locals selected hedgehogs as the animal they want the council to focus on in the Bring Back Nature campaign.

The consultation begins in line with Hedgehog Awareness Week which runs from May 5 to 11.

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Cllr Alan Sharp, chairman of the finance and assets committee, said: “Hedgehogs are a fascinating and well-loved native animal, and creating this guidance has two key benefits.

"As well as requiring developers to take positive measures to support hedgehogs it is also bringing it to the public’s attention that small measures, like hedgehog holes in a fence, can really make a big difference.

"We hope as many people as possible, and especially developers, will embrace the opportunity to help the recovery of hedgehogs here in East Cambridgeshire, and that they will contribute positively to the consultation.”

Several housebuilding firms are helping hedgehogs nationwide.

The council is also committed to the cause with measures like promoting The Big Hedgehog Map for sightings, creating hedgehog-friendly zones, and offering public education on assisting hedgehogs in gardens.