Exmouth Journal - The use of 'netting' to stop birds nesting should not continue, says East Devon MP

Should developers' use of netting, to stops birds nesting in trees and hedgerows, be banned?

That was the question being debated by MPs in Parliament after more than 350,000 people signed a petition, which called for 'netting' to become a criminal offence.

A total of 807 East Devon residents backed the petition which called for a ban on the use of nets by housing developers to prevent birds from nesting in trees and hedgerows.

The petition said the practice 'threatens declining species of birds, presents a danger by entrapment to wildlife, and produces large amounts of plastic waste'.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire, took part in a major debate in front of the Government's Petitions' Committee on Monday (May 13).

Sir Hugo said: "I spoke about how we must ensure housing developers cannot use nets to prevent birds from nesting in trees and hedgerows.

"I have called on ministers to update guidance to developers that nets should not be used during breeding season, as a first step.

"This follows a petition of over 300,000 signatures, with 805 signatories in East Devon.

"Thank you for those who have contacted me on this - I am working with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and have previously asked officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to look into how widespread the practice is."

A number of other MPs have also said that 'netting' should stop or at least be regulated.

The RSPB said developers did it to make it easier for them to remove greenery when the time came, because although it is an offence to destroy an active nest, there are no laws to prevent the installation of nets to stop birds nesting in the first place.

It said 'careful consideration' would be needed to develop rules 'that really help birds, and allow legitimate activity to continue'.

Responding to the petition, the Government said: "Developers must fulfil their obligation to safeguard local wildlife and habitats.

"Netting trees and hedgerows is only appropriate where genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development."