RSPB calls on Norfolk council to do ‘the right thing’ and take netting down at Bacton cliffs

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

The RSPB is calling on North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) at a crunch meeting today to take down the netting at Bacton cliffs, which is preventing sand martins from getting to their nesting sites.

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

Emily Kench, RSPB communications officer for the East of England, said they were meeting NNDC at 1pm today.

She said: 'We had a meeting with the council yesterday and are meeting them again today at 1pm. We will be asking them to take the netting down.

'The onus is on the council to do the right thing and take it down. They don't have to agree, but there is outrage among the community.'

She said they had not condoned putting the netting up because of the risk of sand martins and other birds getting trapped.

She added: 'We advised the council to use geotextiles, a sheet that nothing can get through, but only as a last resort, and only to be used where there were possible nesting sites on either side of it.

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'We said it should be 7m high and 50m wide. What the council has put up is netting with 20mm holes, and that spans the whole length of the cliffs, 1.3km-wide.'

Meanwhile, more than 0.25m people have signed a public petition against the use of netting on hedgerows and trees to prevent wildlife nesting.

The petition at #NestsNOTNets wants to make it a criminal offence to net hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting.

The social media group claims that 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, they said.

The petition has already been signed by 252,211 people, and will be discussed by Parliament, as it's surpassed the 100,000 mark.