Sections of anti-bird netting placed along Bacton Cliffs in Norfolk are due to be removed following pressure from wildlife groups, including the RSPB. North Norfolk District Council put up the nets to prevent sand martins nesting on the cliffs, and instead encourage them to nest further along the coast.
Concerns were raised that the netting posed a significant risk to birds attempting to reach the cliff face. The RSPB said they were “disappointed” that the nets had been placed to prevent sand martins nesting and that the council’s actions “do not follow RSPB advice, or indeed their own construction plans.”
A spokesperson for the RSPB said in a statement earlier today, “The issue and images of the Bacton cliff netting have been very upsetting for all. We are pleased to have had a conversation with North Norfolk District Council this afternoon about the situation.
During the conversation, the Council committed to removing the netting covering the upper section of the cliffs tomorrow [10th April] once their abseiling teams are available.
We will be taking up an invitation from the Council to visit the site as soon as possible this week to discuss our outstanding concerns.
This will cover our concerns regarding the 1.3km length of the netted cliff face that will remain. We will ask the Council to reduce this to 50m maximum and keep to a height of 7m. We will also be raising the issue of the material currently in use.”
Since the statement was released North Norfolk District Council have pushed back the removal of sections of the netting from tomorrow to Thursday 11th April.
Sand martins are summer visitors to the UK and begin arriving from Africa between mid-March and mid-April. They nest in colonies which contain more than 100 pairs and excavate 45-90cm long tunnels in sand pits and sea-cliffs.
The netting is part of a Sandscaping Project which the council say has been designed to protect hundreds of homes in Bacton and Walcott, and the critical infrastructure of Bacton Gas Terminal.
In a statement the North Norfolk District Council said, “Following positive discussions with the RSPB and Natural England today, we have instructed contractors to remove the upper levels of netting on Bacton cliffs.
Minimum levels will be retained to assist in progressing with this critical project to protect people’s homes and national infrastructure. Following this, ongoing discussions will take place between NNDC and the RSPB about the material to be used on the lower section of cliff to allow this to happen.”
RSPB – Sand Martin
North Norfolk District Council – Bacton Netting Statement 9th April