Norfolk council agrees to remove some of the netting at Bacton cliffs following public outrage

Aerial view of Bacton, The netting is on the cliffs below Bacton Gas Terminals. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of Bacton, The netting is on the cliffs below Bacton Gas Terminals. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

A Norfolk council has agreed to remove some of the netting at Bacton cliffs which was preventing sand martins from getting to their nesting sites.

But a peaceful protest planned for 5pm today on the beach will still go-ahead.

The RSPB met North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) for a crunch meeting today and called on the local authority to do the right thing, and take it down.

The council put the temporary netting up to deter the birds from nesting during work on the Bacton/Walcott Coastal Management Sandscaping Scheme. This will see 1.8m cubic metres of sand put on the beaches to protect them from erosion.

An NNDC spokesman said today: 'The Bacton netting issue has been our top priority today and yesterday and we appreciate the level of concern it has caused.

'Following positive discussions with the RSPB and Natural England today, we have instructed contractors to remove the upper levels of netting on Bacton cliffs.

'Minimum levels will be retained to assist in progressing with this critical project to protect people's homes and national infrastructure.

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'Following this, ongoing discussions will take place between NNDC and the RSPB about the material to be used on the lower section of cliff to allow this to happen.

'Please also be aware that these cliffs are not safe to climb on. Please don't attempt to do this. A team of abseiling professionals will carry out the work in the next 24 hours.'

The #nestsnotnets group said after the news was released that the protest would still go ahead.

It said: 'Whilst we absolutely welcome the nets coming down within 24 hours the distress and displacement caused to the sandmartins and other wildlife has been utterly disgraceful and must never happen again.'

Emily Kench, RSPB communications officer for the East of England, said: 'The issue and images of the Bacton cliff netting have been very upsetting for all.

'We are pleased to have had a conversation with NNDC this afternoon about the situation.

'During the conversation, the council committed to removing the netting covering the upper section of the cliffs tomorrow once their abseiling teams are available.

'We will be taking up an invitation from the council to visit the site as soon as possible this week to discuss our outstanding concerns.

'This will cover our concerns regarding the 1.3km length of the netted cliff face that will remain.

'We will ask the council to reduce this to 50m maximum and keep to a height of 7m. We will also be raising the issue of the material currently in use. We will be re-outlining our original recommendation of geotextile meshing to ensure that the burrows in the sandscaping zone are not smothered; in addition, by using geotextile it will also ensure no birds can be trapped.'