House of Commons Library

Hedgerow Netting Petition

Published Thursday, May 2, 2019

A parliamentary petition calling on the Government to make 'netting' hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting a criminal offence had over 350,000 signatures by 2 May 2019.

Jump to full report >>

The petition is a response to recent reports in the press on the use of nets by developers to prevent birds nesting in or near development sites. There have been articles in a number of publications including The Guardian and the BBC, which includes an interactive map of where nets have been reported.

The existing legislation means that it is an offence to destroy or damage any bird nest that is being used or being built.These restrictions have resulted in developers using nets to cover hedgerows and trees in and around their sites before any nesting activity begins, as this could stop or restrict building during the summer months.

According to the Woodland Trust hedgerows are the most widespread semi-natural habitat in the UK and support a large diversity of flora and fauna.

In response the reports, Natural England set out that there is no specific regulation of the use of netting, but that developers must comply with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and any planning requirements.

The Government has  provided a written response, setting out that the Minister had written to developers to remind them that they “must fulfil their obligation to safeguard local wildlife and habitats” and that “netting trees and hedgerows is only appropriate where genuinely needed to protect birds from harm during development”.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8558

Authors: Elena Ares; Gabrielle Garton Grimwood

Topics: Agriculture and environment, Animal welfare, Countryside

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.