Britain bangs on to other countries about looking after nature, but it seems hell-bent on destroying its own most protected species. Last week, the court of appeal judged that the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation had the right to build on marshland near the river Thames - land rated as one of the three most important sites for endangered wildlife in the country, with 17 protected species. This was triply depressing for conservation. Not only does this mean that car parks and warehouses will probably destroy 70% of the site, but this was the first real test of new biodiversity protection laws. To add insult to injury, the government's own ecology advisers, Natural England (NE), played an ignominious role. The three appeal judges concluded that NE's withdrawal of their objection to the development was crucial in their decision. All of this means that the small but fragile invertebrate charity Buglife, which had the nerve to challenge the authority, is £30,000 out of pocket.