You may have come across a story from the BBC recently about housing and property developers covering trees and hedges with netting.
Jeremy Vine also tweeted about it and in having a look online, I saw that this practice has actually been going on for ages. Maybe people didn’t understand what it was all about before now.
Maybe more contractors are using this technique or maybe the country is so swamped with new houses going up in this ‘housing crisis’ (don’t get me started) that we’re seeing it more and more regularly now.
When a development company buys or wins a bid, and planning permission, for an area of land, they obviously have to clear that land of what is in the way in preparation for building works.
This includes any existing trees and hedgerows. Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) don’t seem to matter in the slightest in these situations, but developers do have to adhere to the laws laid out in the Countryside and Wildlife Act of 1981 which states that it is illegal to fell or remove trees and hedgerows that contain active nests.
It is not, however, illegal to stop birds nesting in the first place. So, nets are placed over any tree or hedge that needs to be removed, the birds can’t nest, the greenery can be taken out whenever the developer is ready to do so.
The RSPB has said, ‘We cannot keep trying to squeeze nature into smaller and smaller spaces or demanding it fits in with our plans. People around the country are dismayed to hear about cases where birds returning from long journeys are being deliberately excluded from sites where they might choose to raise their young. Those people want action, and so do we.
‘That’s why the RSPB is campaigning for laws to be introduced that would commit governments to ensure the recovery of nature – meaning that practices like this would come under much closer scrutiny in future.
‘We all need nature in our lives – which means giving birds and other wildlife, more, not less room to breed, feed and sing.
‘In the short term, though, we need to act to make sure that we are not making things more difficult now, for wildlife that is already struggling with climate change, habitat loss and development pressure.
‘That’s why we think the petition on the Government’s website is a welcome move, and we are encouraging people to sign it.’
Andrew Whitaker, from the Home Builders Federation, says: “Netting trees aligns with the relevant environmental requirements in instances where it has been agreed with the local authority that a tree has to be replaced. Last year, house builders planted about nine million trees and shrubs, making the industry one of the nation’s biggest providers of new trees.”
Please email in to the paper if you have seen this practice happening in our county and let me know. Profit first and environmental protection second cannot continue.