Do not net trees or hedges

<<Tidings, May 2019>>

Or start cutting them down, this time of year …

“Developers must fulfil their obligation to safeguard local wildlife and habitats. Netting trees and hedgerows is only appropriate where genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development,” writes the government, in response to a recent debate in the House of Commons, itself triggered by a petition signed by over one hundred thousand people.

Why should developers do such a thing? you may ask.

Because it is illegal under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act to disturb birds during the nesting season, i.e. from March-April to October-November. If developers can dissuade birds from nesting at all they can act as they like, all year round.

The advice from government continues (excerpt):

“On 8 April [2019], we wrote to developers to remind them of their legal obligation to consider the impact of any project on local wildlife and, where necessary, to take precautionary action to protect their habitats. Developments should enhance natural environments, not destroy them. It is vital that developers take these words on board and play their full role to make sure we can deliver new communities in an environmentally sustainable way.

“Wild birds are protected by provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to a bird by an act, or a failure to act, where the person concerned knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would or be likely to cause unnecessary suffering.

“Any development project must consider the impact on local wildlife and take precautionary action to protect habitat. Bird netting should be kept to a minimum and used only to help protect birds during development.”

This applies to all land, furthermore, in public or private ownership.

As with all laws, ignorance is no defence.

bird's nests (varied location)
Varied location of different birds’ nests (Wikimedia)