BOROUGH chiefs say there is ‘no ground for complacency’ in the fight to protect birds and wildlife from netting.

Some developers currently use netting to prevent birds from nesting in hedgerows which are to be removed as part of their housing plans – as it is illegal to disturb nesting birds once they have set up home.

But campaigners warn that the netting can be a death trap for some birds and wildlife, and a petition calling on the Government to clamp down on the practice currently has more than 260,000 signatures.

Sue Helliwell, Conservative Cheshire East Council candidate for Alsager, asked cabinet on Tuesday how the authority could protect birds from harm.

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She said: “Does CEC have a policy on netting being used on hedges before housing development starts? If not, could CEC try to secure a better way of protecting wildlife in the planning process?

“This could be done by following the guidance from the RSPB, which states that netting should be used only after planning permission has been granted, that netting should be used in a way that will not trap wildlife and checked three times a day.”

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, recognised the growing concern around netting – and suggested the council does have the power to restrict it where necessary.

He said: “Where netting has been widely used it has sometimes caused problems with visual amenity, the inadvertent trapping of wildlife within nets and the displacement of birds from their preferred habitat.

Knutsford Guardian:

“Netting has only occasionally been employed on hedges in Cheshire East and we are not aware of any recent occurrences of trees being covered in large nets. Accordingly it has not been a significant issue in the borough to date.

“However, there is no ground for complacency. Through our local plan the council has wide ranging policies to support biodiversity, protect trees and hedges and encourage responsible development.

“We cannot retrospectively control sites that have already enjoyed planning permission, but we do have powers to impose suitable conditions to restrict or limit netting should they become necessary.”

To see the petition click here.