Online backlash against hedgerow netting in Malmesbury Wiltshire

Credit: ITV West Country

A housing development near Malmesbury has faced criticism online for using netting over hedgerows and trees to stop birds nesting.

Residents living in Bendy Bow in Oaksey say the netting was put up more than a month ago by developers.

Campaigners shared photos of the netting on social media saying the plastic cover risks trapping birds and other wildlife.

It follows a national online petition with more than 337,600 signatures urging developers to stop the practise.

It's not illegal to fit netting to hedgerows before building work. The government responded to the campaign saying they had written to developers reminding them of their "legal obligations" to safeguard local wildlife and only use netting where it's genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust says they've spent years campaigning to protect wildlife during developments.

Netting of hedges prior to a site being developed for buildings can lead to birds becoming trapped or tangled up. After years of campaigning by organisations including The Wildlife Trusts, it is now illegal to knowingly disturb nesting birds even if you have planning permission to remove a hedge.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Credit: ITV West Country
Credit: ITV West Country

Developers GreenSquare Group say they used the netting to encourage birds to nest elsewhere before demolition work began but have decided to remove the netting following the online backlash.

We had used netting in this location only to encourage birds to nest elsewhere, ensuring that they were protected from disturbance during planned demolition and construction works.

Jo Curson, Head of Development at GreenSquare