RESIDENTS are concerned about the impact a developer’s use of hedgerow netting is having on wildlife.
Black netting has been stretched over a section of hedgerow on Box Road in Cam.
The hedge is due to be removed as part of Bovis Homes’ 137-home development, which currently has outline planning permission.
A team from Bovis netted the hedge to prevent birds nesting there before it is uprooted.
But people have become concerned after seeing birds and a rabbit inside the netting.
Mick Gadsby, whose partner saw a bird trapped in the netting, said: “My concern is that the netting will not be properly managed and checked regularly enough, so more animals will get caught and die, especially as it is spring so the bird activity will increase in the next few months.”
Gareth Parry, director of conservation at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, said: “Netting is perfectly legal, as long as it’s done before the birds are ready to nest. But the barrier should be completely impenetrable, and then the birds will find somewhere else.
“We do recommend that hedgerows should be put back in a better condition than before the work started. There should be a net gain for wildlife. In his Spring Statement, the chancellor said that this will soon become mandatory for developers.”
Dr Simon Pickering, Principal Ecologist at Ecotricity said: “Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to kill most birds, damage their eggs or nests. And for rarer birds on Schedule One, it is illegal to disturb them.
“Normally developers remove hedgerows that are to be removed at the part of the development prior to the bird breeding season – before March.
“If netting is to be used it needs to be netting birds don’t get caught in or can’t get underneath, because once inside nesting birds, although protected from avian predator like magpies, they are then more vulnerable from terrestrial predators like weasels.”
“There is also concern about poorly set out netting trapping hedgehogs that are either emerging from hibernation or just going about their daily life.”
A spokesperson for Bovis Homes said: “We would like to reassure any concerned residents that an ecologist is regularly visiting the site and on Tuesday inspected the netting and checked its integrity – finding no wildlife within the hedgerow.
“As is the normal practice, the netting is designed with some looser sections at ground level, allowing mammals to escape but no birds to enter.
“Environmental considerations are a central part of our preparatory work and the netting is designed to ensure birds go elsewhere to nest, meaning no birds are disturbed or harmed if the hedgerow is removed.
“The land benefits from outline planning permission and we hope to receive reserved matters consent very soon for 137 new homes, 41 of which are designated for affordable housing, which will ultimately be managed by a Housing Association for the benefit of house seekers in the local community.
“The removal of the hedgerow is initially required to create access points to the land, which will allow preparatory work to begin to deliver these new homes. If any resident has concerns about wildlife in this area as a result of our operations, they should contact our Health, Safety and Environment line on 01474 876300.
“We are required to remove this stretch of hedgerow to comply with planning conditions and meet safety requirements in accordance with Gloucestershire County Council Highways guidance.
“The hedgerow, as it stands, restricts visibility for drivers leaving the site and failure to remove it could result in a serious road traffic accident.
“As part of the plans, a new footpath is proposed for this area.”