Demonstration against bird netting at Ludlow
Campaigners against netting designed to stop birds from nesting will be holding a demonstration in Ludlow.
The protest will take place on April 14 at Rocks Green in the town, where developer Pickstock Homes sparked an outcry by installing anti-bird netting over a hedgerow.
Pickstock has been granted planning permission to build 200 new homes on the site. It is an offence to disturb bird's nests, so developers use the nets to prevent birds from settling, meaning they can remove the hedgerows during the nesting season.
An online petition calling for a ban on the practice has attracted more than 200,000 supporters since it was launched last month.
The protest has been organised by April Boardman from Cleobury Mortimer, who said she had the support of several wildlife groups in the area.
She said: "These nets not only prevent bird nesting, but in most cases it is not being fitted properly meaning that birds, hedgehogs and other forms of wildlife can easily become trapped and injured by it.
"Whilst this supposedly was placed prior to the nesting season it was not properly secured by the developer until nesting season had started."
Mrs Boardman said she had contacted the developer several times, but had received no reply.
"We understand there is a need for new homes but not at the detriment to ecosystems which are already failing," she said.
Fay Vass, chief executive of the Ludlow-based British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said she was horrified by the practice.
"Developers know it is an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built, so they undertake to steal habitat away at the outset, so they can later destroy trees and hedges at will," she said.
Councillor Andy Boddington said he has heard birds inside the netting.
“I don’t think this netting works," he said. "It is open at both ends and has gaps along the length. Contrary to what the developers intend, it provides a sheltered haven for birds in nesting season.
“Many people believe that such netting simply acts to trap birds. This is not a new practice but its use seems to be growing. We must make every stride we can to protect birds and hedgehogs.”
Shropshire Wildlife Trust said it had also received reports of netting being used in Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury, and Cockshutt, near Ellesmere.
“The practice is abhorrent,” said the trust's Robin Mager.
"Netting hedgerows is not against the law, but is nonetheless a very ugly practice. It frequently results in small mammals and birds finding their way inside the netting through gaps and tears. They then become trapped.”
The practice has also been condemned by television naturalist Chris Packham and broadcaster Jeremy Vine.
The demonstration starts at 11am.