Petition Make 'netting' hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting a criminal offence.

Developers, and other interested parties are circumventing laws protecting birds by 'netting' hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting.

This facilitates the uprooting of hedgerows which aid biodiversity and provide the only remaining nesting sites for birds, whose numbers are in sharp decline.

More details

'Netting' hedgerows threatens declining species of birds, presents a danger by entrapment to wildlife, and produces large amounts of plastic waste.

This is how Jeremy Vine responded to reports of 'netting' in preparation for hedgerow removal:

This is how the human race ends, everybody.

We cover hedges with nets.
We get permission to build flats because there are no birds.
Then we live in the flats and feel pleased that no birdsong wakes us in the morning.
Then we die.

Sometimes I hate us.

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Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 13 May 2019.

You'll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 10 April 2019

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.

Read the response in full

On 8 April, we wrote to developers to remind them of their legal obligation to consider the impact of any project on local wildlife and, where necessary, to take precautionary action to protect their habitats. Developments should enhance natural environments, not destroy them. It is vital that developers take these words on board and play their full role to make sure we can deliver new communities in an environmentally sustainable way.

Wild birds are protected by provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to a bird by an act, or a failure to act, where the person concerned knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would or be likely to cause unnecessary suffering.

Any development project must consider the impact on local wildlife and take precautionary action to protect habitat. Bird netting should be kept to a minimum, and used only to help protect birds during development.

In accordance with Natural England’s standing advice for local authorities needing to assess planning applications that affect wild birds, survey reports and mitigation plans are required for projects that could affect protected species. Our revised National Planning Policy Framework also makes clear that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural environment by minimising the impacts on, and providing net gains for, biodiversity. However, we plan to require developers to deliver biodiversity net gain, under new arrangements in the forthcoming Environment Bill. This will mean wildlife habitat must be left in a measurably better state than it was before any development.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

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