If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A Bridge Too Far?

As part of a road construction project near Pontypridd, the contractors have built a series of bridges across the new by-pass to allow dormice to cross the road in safety. These bridges have cost £190,000. I am not kidding.

Now, I am all in favour of helping our fellow creatures live happy and fulfilled lives, but this seems utterly disproportionate. According to the BBC report, the bridges are not needed for the survival of the mice, which live in two colonies on opposite sides of the new road. It's so that the mice can interbreed between colonies and thus maintain a health gene-pool.

According to the BBC:

When completed, the tubes will be solid mesh to stop the dormice falling out. As dormice live in trees as opposed to on the ground, their routes have to stretch between trees instead of along underpasses used by, for example, hedgehogs and badgers.

Well, that's all very nice. I'm just wondering how many nurses we could employ with the thick end of a quarter of a million pounds. Or clinics built. Or schools repaired. Or people's rates reduced. It seems crazy to the point of madness that we should spend this kind of money during a recession on dormice, which are not even an endangered species. Oh, wait ...

The CCW said the threatened dormice had the highest level of protection afforded to them via the EU Habitats Directive.

"To not provide adequate mitigation for dormice would have risked possible infraction proceedings and fines from the European Union."

So there we have it. Because some eco-loons in Brussles think that dormice are great, the poor bloody taxpayers of Wales have to fund a wire bridge so that these little critters can get their tiny legs over. And as we know the Great British Approach to all EU regulations is to gold-plate them and then send the bill to someone else, while shrugging the shoulders and saying "we had no choice, EU regs, you know how it is".

Does anyone seriously imagine this happening in the countries most central to the European ideal, like France and Germany? Of course not: they would be quietly ignored.

Wait, though: there's no need to worry:

The Welsh Assembly Government has funded the bypass, including the dormice bridges.

That's OK then. Someone else is paying. I mean, the money that the Welsh Assembly has is nothing to do with us, is it? It's like a gift. Good old Welsh Assembly. Thanks, boys.

I thought for one minute that we would be paying.

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