Controversial hedge netting could be made a crime

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill is to lead a debate in Parliament on whether the Government should make the controversial practice of putting netting on hedgerows to prevent birds nesting a criminal offence.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 6:00 am
Netting was put over a hedgerow along Worset Lane, Hartlepool earlier this year while planning permission on a housing development was awaited. Picture by Frank Reid.

MPs will debate the issue on Monday after a petition received more than 352,000 signatures.

Mr Hill will open the debate at a meeting of the Pensions Committee of which he is a member.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

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Recently in Hartlepool a row broke out over the use of wildlife control netting on a hedge off Worset Lane where land was being prepared for housing.

The petition to be debated in Parliament states: “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.”

The petitioner adds: “Netting hedgerows threatens declining species of birds, presents a danger by entrapment to wildlife, and produces large amounts of plastic waste.”

More than 4,300 people took part in a recent Facebook discussion on netting hedgerows with Mr Hill.

In response to one contributor, Mr Hill said: “While it’s not illegal to use netting it is certainly something that now needs to be put under the microscope.”

Stephen Litherland, managing director of Hertfordshire-based Acland Homes previously said the Worset Lane netting, which has since been removed, was a responsible method used by developers to plan site works without disturbing wildlife.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee approved proposals from Acland Homes and Leebell Developments to build up to eight homes on the Worset Lane site on Wednesday.

In response 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.

“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.”