Films from decades ago show a Britain of green fields and flowery meadows, teeming with nature’s bounty in all its many glorious forms.

Today, most people’s experience of native wildlife is either foxes raiding their dustbins, rats invading homes or roadkill rotting by the traffic’s edge. To say British wildlife is in crisis is a huge understatement and according to a 2016 report by The State of Nature, the United Kingdom is now “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”.

The destruction stems from urbanisation, pollution, invasive species, intensive farming and climate change, with the consequences visible even on a local level. In Surrey, more and more areas of open, green land are being covered in houses and concrete. Take the huge new housing estate along the A240 in Ewell as an example. The land, once owned and farmed by Nescot for its animal husbandry students, is now covered with over ninety properties in the ironically named “Sycamore Gardens”.

Surrey’s Wildlife Trust is keen to reverse the decimation of the county’s biodiversity, but acknowledges that “a third of Surrey’s wildlife is now either extinct or heading that way”. The benefits of the county’s natural environment are hugely undervalued and frequently ignored by the council in its economic and development decisions.

Many species and their habitats are in decline which causes problems, not just for personal well-being but for the local economy. For example, the 2012-2013 floods in Surrey caused millions of pounds worth of damage, but had the council not concreted over flood plains or grassy areas, there would have been far less destruction. It’s not rocket science, but Surrey County Council continuously fails to see the bigger picture. Flood risk can easily be lessened by ensuring there are wetlands upstream of neighbourhoods or woodlands to absorb rainfall and slow its path.

So what can we all do to help Surrey’s wildlife? As a start, it’s as simple as planting native nectar-rich flowers - even in a window-box, leaving an area of garden a bit messy, using environmentally friendly pest control products, putting up feeders and nest boxes and providing a good source of clean water.

If we all thought a bit more about the consequences of neglecting nature and were more forceful in fighting Surrey County Council’s ludicrous “concrete-over-all” policy, then it’s just possible Surrey’s wildlife won’t disappear for good.