Critics to keep battling use of nets on development sites - The Stratford Observer
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12th Aug, 2022

Critics to keep battling use of nets on development sites

COUNCIL chiefs have vowed to continue the fight against developers ‘netting’ hedges in Stratford.

The use of nets to prevent birds from nesting in hedges earmarked for removal, which has swept across the country this spring, has prompted an outcry.

The practice does not need planning permission and housing developers can only be prosecuted if they deliberately harm wildlife.

The issue was debated in Parliament on Monday (May 13) after a petition challenging the practice gained 355,000 signatures.

However the government rejected the calls to criminalise the use of nets to prevent nesting.

But Stratford District Council planning spokesman Daren Pemberton remains determined to see a crackdown on the practice locally after development sites in Loxley prompted concerns for wildlife habitats.

Developer Taylor Wimpey used netting to prevent birds from nesting in hedges which have since been removed to make way for housing.

And nets also appeared over hedges on a nearby Rosconn Group site.

Coun Pemberton said: “Netting has become fashionable although developers seemed to manage fine without encasing hedgerows in netting.

“It can’t have any positive impact on wildlife. It just gets dumped and there’s enough plastic around without that, as well as the impact it’s having on biodiversity, the environment and wellbeing.

“We are trying ways to control this and I’m keen to negotiate with developers to find solutions. We as an authority take the environment seriously.

“It’s a bonkers practice for the convenience of the developers. The social policies on their websites promote them as organisations who want to preserve the environment but they’re doing the opposite.

“Local authorities are grappling with this up and down the country. We are all on the same page and developers are on the wrong side argument.”

Despite the outcome of the government debate the Bidford ward councillor remains hopeful local authorities could be given powers to end or regulate the use of netting.

He added: “In terms of ways forward I hope that central government will provide powers for us to control this. In the interim we will be discussing with developers how to avoid using netting and to potentially seek voluntary arrangements with them.”

Following the concerns, Taylor Wimpey maintained the removal of hedgerows in Loxley Road was supervised by an ecologist who confirmed no nesting birds or other wildlife were present. The developer also confirmed no skylark nests had been identified on the site, contrary to recent claims.

A spokesperson said: “Any remaining hedgerow trimming or removal will be carried out following the bird nesting season. The hedgerow will be inspected by an ecologist prior to removal in order to ensure no wildlife is present.

“Under our approved ecological management plan we will replant the species-poor hedgerow using native species, which in turn will enhance biodiversity.”

Rosconn Group declined to comment on the use of nets on its site off Goldicote Road.

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