Should developers use netting to stop birds nesting?

A debate has been raging over whether the practice of using netting to prevent birds nesting should be allowed or even made a criminal offence. Rachel Salvidge reports.

Almost overnight, the practice of netting trees, hedgerows and even cliffs to keep birds away found itself under the unforgiving spotlight of social media.

Images of trees, ghostly beneath swathes of netting, began to multiply on Twitter, followed by hedges and hot on their heels, a petition – boasting 320,000 signatures at the time of writing – demanding that the government make netting a criminal offence.

According to Mark Webb, UK head of ecology at WSP, developers use netting because “birds and their nests, eggs and chicks are legally protected under UK wildlife law. Thus when a tree (or hedgerow or scrub patch) has birds nesting within it, it cannot be felled until such time as the birds have finished nesting”.

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