Row breaks out over use of wildlife netting around hedges in Hartlepool ahead of housing development

A row has broken out over a Hartlepool development’s use of controversial wildlife control netting.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 4:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 4:08 pm
Damage is visible to the netting

Acland Homes Ltd and Leebell Developments Ltd have applied for planning permission to build up to eight homes on a site at Worset Lane, close to Throston Golf Club.

While permission is awaited, a hedge at the site has been encased in green netting to deny access to birds and other wildlife.

The covered hedge row

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The use of netting has been the subject of controversy nationally, with campaigners claiming animals can get trapped inside.

But Stephen Litherland, managing director of Hertfordshire-based Acland Homes defended use of the material and said the main risk to wildlife came from protestors slashing the netting and letting wildlife get inside.

Several people have protested at the move on social media and Chris Pattison, a former Environment Agency environment protection officer, contacted the Mail to highlight the use of the netting.

“I understand that this netting has emasculated the hedge in order to prevent birds from nesting, laying eggs and rearing young; in order not to inconvenience the developers when they start work on the proposed development,” he said.

A sign warning that anyone damaging the netting will be prosecuted

“This type of netting favours development over the protection of wildlife. The reason I particularly don’t like this is that the planning permission has not gone through.

“It has got outline permission but full permission is only pending. I just think it is very premature

“I want to see it gone as soon as possible to allow birds to nest, breed and allow their young to fledge.

“According to the RSPB, the UK has lost more than 40million birds in the last 50 years. This practice is only going to exacerbate the problem.”

Damage to the netting

But Stephen Litherland said the netting was there to protect wildlife: “We have recently been made aware of a Facebook campaign that has been set up to oppose the netting that we have installed around hedges that are intended to be removed in the next few weeks,” he said.

“The reason that the netting has been erected is to stop birds nesting in the hedges and is a responsible method used up and down the country by developers so we are able to plan site works without disturbing the wildlife.

“There is nothing illegal about this practice.

“It seems that the national media have been reporting on netting over the last few weeks and this has been picked up.

“It is claimed that the netting traps wildlife. If done properly, this is not the case, as wildlife is unable to get into the netting in the first place.

“The netting at the golf course was erected at the end of February and was erected professionally. Since then the netting has been vandalised on a number of occasions.

“Ironically, the vandalism to the nets is what is more likely to cause animals to become trapped. If they are able to get in and not get out that is what poses the danger.

“We have been and are working with the council to ensure wildlife is protected as best we can. Unfortunately the recent vandalism that has occurred means there is actually now a higher risk to wildlife.”