Conservationists fear that nets could return

Nets that prevent birds from nesting in trees and hedges have been spotted and conservationists are asking developers to reconsider their plans.

Netting on trees on the University of Cambridge campus.

There was Twitter uproar in late February when netting was put up on about 20 trees on the University of Cambridge campus to discourage birds from nesting during building work. The netting was later removed due to public demand.

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Nets are used by planners and housing developers to prevent birds from nesting in trees and hedges so they can be removed. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is illegal to knowingly damage or destroy an active nest (a nest becomes active once a bird has started building it) – even if you have planning permission to remove a hedge.

The practice of using nets to prevent birds from nesting is not illegal but has raised concerns amongst environmentalists and conservationists as the nets’ holes, or poorly fitted nets, can allow birds to get inside and become trapped.

The RSPB recommends that if trees must be removed, then it is done between September and February, outside of the nesting season.

“I can’t believe we’re here again, but we won’t give up,” says RSPB operations director Jeff Knott. “This practice must stop. Nature needs us to do better. Last year we saw cases of netting all over the UK. It would be a massive own goal for developers to go through all this bad publicity again.”

Netting on trees on the University of Cambridge campus.
Netting on trees on the University of Cambridge campus. © Al Kitching

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Main image: Netting on trees on the University of Cambridge campus. © Al Kitching