​Local Council Faces Backlash After Placing Nets On Trees To Repel Birds

Locals have slammed Solihull Council after huge plastic nets were installed on trees in a retail park to stop birds nesting.

People living near the Sears Retail Park in Solihull, West Midlands, said the council's move was 'cruel' and 'barbaric'.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal for trees containing nesting birds to be cut down.

Solihull Council put the nets up to repel birds, with plans for four mature trees to be cut down later this year.

Councillor Tim Hodgson, who represents the Green Party, posted pictures of the mature trees encased with nets.

He tweeted: "Sadly these have popped up in Solihull at Sears Retail Park - I am pressing Solihull Council to intervene, very worrying to see this all over the country.

"They are planning to chop them down but my Green Party colleagues are doing what we can to stop this.

"The nets are to prevent nesting but this is cruel and shouldn't be happening.

"The retail park said they wanted to chop them down to carry out a 'refurbishment' but are now reviewing things after the backlash from the community."

Sears Retail Park in Solihull. Credit: SWNS
Sears Retail Park in Solihull. Credit: SWNS

People living nearby also expressed anger at the 'sickening' nets, with mum-of-two Dawn Hodges, 45, saying: "It's simply wrong to put up nets to stop birds nesting.

"Firstly, these nets could quite easily trap birds trying to reach the branches which could break their legs.

"Secondly, where are these birds going to go and raise their young? This is a heavily urbanised area and birds are literally creatures of habit.

"I fear we'll see lots of dead birds in the area as a result of these cruel and barbaric nets."

The nets have been placed to deter nesting birds. Credit: SWNS
The nets have been placed to deter nesting birds. Credit: SWNS

The row comes after a recent backlash against housing developers in Chester for wrapping bushes in plastic nets to prevent nesting birds intervening with building projects.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) recommends hedges and trees are left alone between March and August, as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.

But after securing planning permission in January to build 1,269 properties on green belt land in Chester, Redrow Homes and Taylor Wimpey erected green nets around a stretch of bushes marking the perimeter of the site.

The move has drawn widespread criticism from environmental campaigners, including BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham - who described the tactic as 'brutal ignorance'.

A spokesperson for the RSPB said: "This is just another example of us trying to squeeze nature into smaller and smaller spaces."

In a joint statement from Redrow and Taylor Wimpey, the former company's Paul Sinclair said: "The common practice of netting hedgerows is being responsibly deployed by our specialist contractor.

"They are consortium works ahead of development by Redrow and Taylor Wimpey.

"We take our wildlife responsibilities very seriously and this action has been taken to prevent any birds from nesting in hedges that are scheduled for removal very soon, thereby protecting the birds from future activity.

Similar nets have been placed on trees at many other sites in the UK. Credit: SWNS
Similar nets have been placed on trees at many other sites in the UK. Credit: SWNS

"The nets have been properly installed by a specialist contractor and will be regularly checked by a qualified ecologist to ensure no birds or other wildlife are trapped.

"We obtained a resolution to grant planning permission for our homes in January and, ideally, would have begun work prior to the nesting season.

"However, the permission is subject to agreeing the section 106 details with the local authority and those details are still being concluded.

"Once they are, the nets will be removed immediately and work to create the new access to the site will commence."

Earlier this month, workmen in Guildford were also spotted removing similar netting from trees at a site where 191 homes are to be built by property developers Sladen Estates.

The area was due to be turned into student housing, but construction has been put on hold due to a row over planning permission.

Guildford Borough Council leader Paul Spooner said: "The site did not have active planning permission.

"Netting those trees to avoid any potential disruption to a developer I thought was unacceptable."

A spokesperson for Sladen Estates said: "We understand the strength of reaction to the netting of trees at Walnut Tree Park, Guildford, but want to reassure everyone that we have taken the correct advice."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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