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08/04/2019

Brokenshire warns developers to protect local wildlife

Words: Huw Morris
Birds

Communities secretary James Brokenshire has written to developers reminding them of their legal obligations to protect wildlife during building work.

The move follows increasing concerns over netting being placed in trees and hedgerows ahead of building work near housing developments.

In a letter to leading developers, Brokenshire stressed that birds are protected under the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981, and that mitigation plans will need to show how developers will avoid or manage any negative effects on protected species during their work.

He reminded developers of recent planning reforms which state that policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising the impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity. “While building new homes is vital, we must take every care to avoid unnecessary loss of habitats that provide much-needed space for nature, including birds,” Brokenshire said.

“Developments should enhance natural environments, not destroy them. Netting trees and hedgerows is only likely to be appropriate where it is genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development.”

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the planning system must play a vital role in not just reversing the decline in wildlife but helping nature to recover.

“Tree and hedge removal should be completed outside of nesting season. However, if there is absolutely no alternative, then netting must be used sparingly in line with the legal duties and responsibilities on developers, including regular checks to ensure wildlife isn’t getting trapped, injured or worse,” said RSPB director of conservation Martin Harper.

“We are pleased to see the secretary of state is acknowledging the concerns many people have about the use of netting, and how strongly we all feel about sharing our future neighbourhoods with nature rather than pushing it away.”

Image credit | iStock

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