It is very distressing to report that over the past few months we have been made aware of a number of incidents, including two we are currently investigating, of developers carrying out vegetation clearance without sufficient survey checks for breeding birds.
Whilst vegetation clearance is often agreed as part of a planning permission, responsible developers should schedule this work to take place outside the bird nesting season (indeed this is often stated as part of planning conditions) and work which has to take place at sensitive times should only be carried out following a thorough site survey by a suitably qualified ecologist.
In the recent cases it would appear that construction workers have begun clearance work without such checks, leaving themselves and the developers at risk of prosecution and reputational damage. We will continue to raise these cases with planning departments and directly with developers but we would urge any member seeing work such as vegetation stripping of long grass swards, tree felling or hedgerow clearance during the nesting season (February to the end of August) to contact the
relevant planning authority.
Speaking about this worrying issue our Head of Conservation Janice Bradley MBE said “If you see work that looks like it could be destroying nesting habitat or even good foraging habitat in the middle of the nesting season, please contact your local planning department. Don’t assume that the work has been authorised or that adequate surveys have been carried out – in our experience this is often not the case and our recent experience suggests this issue is getting worse. Planning Departments, Natural England and the Environment Agency don’t have the resources to properly monitor planning conditions so we are often left as a last line of defence. Anything we can do together to help prevent destruction of nests and to raise awareness of bad practice could be crucial in protecting birds and their young.”