This letter combines the information sent in the earlier none of which were acknowledged. I think that in total 12 letters, emails and phone calls were required before there was any response from the city council. There is probably no 'target' for responding to letters about the destruction of our environment which the council is required to meet.

Chief Executive

City of York Council

1 June 2009

Dear Sir

Destruction of Water Voles in Germany Beck

I contacted the council officers in February by phone and then, having confirmed the addresses, send e-mail with a letter regarding a water vole habitat that I felt was a risk. This was on 25 February 2009. In conversations and in my letter, I offered to send the images I had taken to the relevant planning department group and also the environment officer.

However, I have not had any response.

Consequently I contacted at your office on 6 May to ask you to chase the matter up since in my letter I pointed out that it is normal for that part of the Beck to be cleared around this time of year. I clearly express my view that the habitat was under imminent threat. You responded by email to say that you had told the relevant officers to contact me. I have still heard nothing from those officers.

I asked in my letter, a copy of which I sent you, that the responsible authorities were informed as a matter of urgency to prevent the terrible destruction that has in fact taken place.

I visited the site on Saturday 23 May and discovered that the area of the water vole habitat has been excavated and destroyed as I had warned you. I have documented all this with photographs and because I was using the GPS as a part of the archaeological work I have been doing related to the battle of Fulford site, I have very precise details and records of the destruction of this particular habitat and can produce other witnesses who have also taken photographs.

I am also notifying the Police. I believe, because of the negligence of your officers, that a criminal offence has been committed. From the 6th April 2008 water voles became subject to increased legal protection and are now fully covered by the provisions of section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Legal protection makes it an offence to intentionally kill or injure water voles or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection.

So I now ask you again, as a matter of even greater urgency, to make a full enquiry and report back to me what actions have been taken to discover why your officers have failed to take the appropriate action as I requested and suggested.

I also need to know who was responsible for this destructive action.

I have already discussed this with Natural England who have provided a link and some guidance plus details of previous prosecutions.

But, going beyond the matter of water voles, it is also my plan now to report this matter to the relevant ombudsman. This event simply compounds the impression that I have formed over the 10 years I have been dealing with the City’s planning authorities regarding the Germany Beck application. The water voles provide only the latest example of their failure to protect our environment, heritage and community interests. I have documented this lax, almost careless, attitude in many letters over the years which were included in my evidence to the public inquiry.

I am extremely upset by the destruction of this habitat and need you to respond in some meaningful way this time.


Charles Jones


The legislation