The Senedd will discuss new laws to protect red squirrel habitat, following a decision from the Petitions Committee to grant the topic a full debate. It follows the success of a petition which quickly gathered more than 10,500 signatures.

The petition had been started in June by red squirrel conservationist, Dr Craig Shuttleworth, from Bangor University. It called for “new laws to protect rare red squirrels from habitat loss which causes population decline due to outdated 1960s tree felling laws”.

The petition also stated that “state-owned forests do not require a licence but are managed under plans which last 10 years or more. They don’t have to annually assess the cumulative impact of felling on red squirrel populations”.

The decision to award the issues raised within the petition a full Senedd debate took just 90 seconds by the committee.

Reacting to the news of his petition's success, Dr Shuttleworth said he was delighted: "I'm absolutely over the moon. Not just for the red squirrels but for the 10,500 people who put their name to this. They will get their voices heard. That's democracy.

"This species is prominent in our biodiversity planning. In a way, it's a shame that it's come to this. It shows that something has gone wrong, that we're having to get a debate because we have been asking for some of these things for ages. 

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"We have been talking about laws regarding woodland felling for years. 

"Isn't it bizarre that red squirrels are one of the rarest animals in Wales and also wider Britain, and yet its habitat can be removed from under its feet because of a set of laws that were drawn up decades ago and are now out of date?"

As previously reported by The National, Dr Shuttleworth accused Natural Resources Wales (NRW) of failing the protected red squirrel population of Ynys Môn by clearfelling trees within their natural habitats without having collected the necessary data beforehand.

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