James Brokenshire has written to leading developers in his role as Communities Secretary to remind them of their legal obligation to consider the impact of a project on birds and other wildlife, following increasing concern over netting being placed in trees and hedgerows ahead of building work.
In the letter, James emphasised that birds are protected under the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981, and that plans will need to show how developers will avoid or manage any negative effects on protected species during their work.
The revised planning rulebook is already clear that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising the impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity.
The Government has also announced further plans to require developers to deliver biodiversity net gain through the forthcoming Environment Bill. This will mean habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were before any development.
Commenting, James said:
“Whilst building new homes is vital, we must take every care to avoid unnecessary loss of habitats that provide much-needed space for nature, including birds.”
“Developments should enhance natural environments, not destroy them. Netting trees and hedgerows is only likely to be appropriate where it is genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development.”
“I hope developers will take these words on board and play their full role to make sure we can deliver new communities in an environmentally sustainable way.”