Brian May criticises Sainsbury’s expansion plans which 'will harm hedgehogs', he claims

Brian May is calling for Sainsbury’s to scrap plans for building works at one of its stores which he says will harm the local hedgehog population.

The Queen guitarist has launched a petition calling for a rethink over the supermarket giant’s expansion plans in Burpham, Surrey.

However, Sainsbury’s has insisted its proposals will not harm the area’s wildlife.

In a joint statement with Anne Brummer, with whom he co-founded wildlife campaign group the Save Me Trust, May said he is “shocked and disappointed” by the supermarket’s proposals.

“The new development proposed by Sainsbury’s threatens the hedgehogs’ very existence in this part of Surrey,” they added.

The supermarket’s plans could destroy an “essential wildlife habitat” by expanding into woodland, they said.

Just less than 70 trees will be removed from the site, it is understood, and the supermarket will replace them with more than 300 plants.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said that ancient woodland on the Burpham site “will not be affected”.

“Our proposal will carefully preserve the area’s natural beauty and wildlife and would avoid Burpham’s ancient woodland entirely,” she added.

“Our plans also include introducing ecological features such as stacked timber hibernacula, bird nesting boxes and bat roosting boxes.

“Our proposal has been informed by a comprehensive ecological appraisal and arboricultural reports, and involves a full mitigation package that includes introducing ecological features.

“We will continue to work with Guildford Borough Council as they assess our application.”

The expansion of the site will create up to 100 new jobs, she added.

A 2018 report by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society revealed a 30% drop in the number of hedgehogs in urban areas since 2000.

May, 73, is a frequent campaigner on wildlife issues and has previously spoken out against badger culling and fox hunting.

He helped to launch the Save Me Trust in 2010.