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Controversial hedgerow netting removed near homes development after wildlife row

By Kerry Ashdown | Lichfield | Property | Published:

Hedge netting in Staffordshire that sparked anger from wildlife supporters across the country has now been removed.

Netted hedges along the A5127 Birmingham Road in Lichfield

The green netting stretched for several metres along the edge of land earmarked for a massive new housing development off the A5127 Birmingham Road in Lichfield.

It sparked several complaints to developer Taylor Wimpey and Lichfield District Council from people concerned for the welfare of nesting birds – and fears that animals could become trapped in the netting.

But the council said that netting the hedges – a practice used to discourage birds from nesting on or near development sites – was not a breach of planning law, meaning it did not have the authority to ask for the netting to be removed.

This month however it was reported that netting had been removed for the site’s surrounding hedges.

Taylor Wimpey confirmed this week that the netting had been taken away – and the removal has been welcomed on social media.

A member of a Facebook campaign page fighting the netting of hedges said: “Thank goodness it has been removed. This is a new epidemic that needs to be halted.

“Hedges and trees take years to establish. They would enhance these building projects.”

The developer secured planning permission from Lichfield District Council last month to build 475 homes on the Deanslade Farm site. But the netting was first put in place in early 2018 when it was expected that planning permission would be granted in time to start work in the summer.

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A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said: “We understand the concerns raised regarding the netting of hedgerows at our Deanslade Farm site in Lichfield. We have engaged with residents and the local council and remain in contact with them as the development progresses.

“Hedgerow netting is only used when necessary following careful consideration on a site-by-site basis, and after putting in place clear and appropriate measures to protect local wildlife from harm. Hedgerows are netted during nesting season to allow any hedgerow trimming or removal work which has been approved during the planning process to be completed by developers without causing harm to nesting birds.

“We netted hedgerows at this particular site in anticipation of gaining planning permission. Consent was granted in March 2019 and we now expect to start work on the development in autumn 2019.

“As this date falls outside the bird nesting season we have now removed all netting at the site. Prior to trimming or removal, hedgerows will be inspected by an ecologist to ensure that no wildlife is present."

A national petition calling for the Government to make hedgerow netting to prevent birds nesting a criminal offence has now attracted more than 330,000 signatures, meaning it is set to be debated in Parliament.

It has also been welcomed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which is encouraging people to sign the petition.

Kerry Ashdown

By Kerry Ashdown
@KerryAshdownLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Staffordshire.

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