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Protect birds when building, says James Brokenshire

Developers must take more care to protect the habitats of wildlife during building work, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP warned today (8 April 2019).

Following increasing concern over netting being placed in trees and hedgerows ahead of building work near housing developments, developers have been reminded of their legal obligation to consider the impact of a project on local wildlife and where necessary, take precautionary action to protect their habitats.

In a letter to leading developers, the Communities Secretary emphasised that birds are protected under the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981, and that mitigation plans will need to show how developers will avoid or manage any negative effects on protected species during their work.

During building work, it is common practice for netting to be placed over trees and hedgerows, but this can be used unnecessarily and trap wildlife.

If developers do not follow their obligations, the Secretary of State has not ruled out further action to protect our country’s valuable ecological system.

The revised planning rulebook is also 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.

But this government is going further, announcing 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.

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