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Controversial bird netting should be gone by 'mid next week'

PUBLISHED: 15:54 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:03 12 April 2019

Netting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDC

Netting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDC

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Netting that has been preventing birds from getting into their nesting holes after migrating thousands of miles from Africa should be removed by the middle of next week.

Netting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDCNetting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDC

North Norfolk District Council, which had the netting thrown up over a mile-long stretch of cliffs at Bacton, north Norfolk, was forced to start taking it off after the move sparked national condemnation.

The netting was designed to keep the birds away during work on the Bacton/Walcott Coastal Management Sandscapaping Scheme, which will see 1.8 million cubic metres of sand pumped onto the beaches to protect the coastline from erosion.

A council spokesman said: “The rope-access work started from the north-western end of the frontage [on Thursday].

“The north-western end, where the cliffs are at their highest, is the furthest section from the access to the beach at Bacton.

Netting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDCNetting being removed from the cliffs at Bacton in north Norfolk. The netting was having a negative impact on sand martins, who could not get into their nesting holes. Picture: NNDC

“The removal project will move in a south-easterly direction - towards the Bacton end of the frontage - today [Friday] and over the weekend.

“The project is weather dependent, especially wind strength and rain, for safety reasons, with the forecast currently sunny and sunny intervals, with a moderate or fresh breeze.

“With the current weather forecast, the removals are due for completion by mid next week.”

Part of the netting - on the lower cliffs - will kept, in line with advice from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Bacton cliffs with the gas terminals above, where netting was put in place to stop sand martins nesting. Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOODBacton cliffs with the gas terminals above, where netting was put in place to stop sand martins nesting. Picture: JAMIE HONEYWOOD

An RSPB spokeswoman said: “Our position is that up to seven metres the burrows must be covered to stop the sand martins coming in, otherwise they will be suffocated when the sand is brought in.

“We are pleased to see the unnecessary netting on the upper sections of the cliffs coming down. That should allow sand martins, if they are still on site, to move into those.”

The council and Kevin Murphy from Norfolk Wildlife Rescue warned people against trying to remove the netting themselves.

Mr Murphy said: “A few folk are suggesting removal of nets themselves, to which they are endangering themselves and the nesting site.

A sand martin leaving its nesting hole. Pic: Ian BurtA sand martin leaving its nesting hole. Pic: Ian Burt

“I am concerned about any wildlife being trapped or entangled in the netting and advise folk not to attempt to free any, but call Norfolk Wildlife Rescue on 07932844524.”

Protesters at Bacton over the cliff netting which has been stopping sand martins from nesting. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodProtesters at Bacton over the cliff netting which has been stopping sand martins from nesting. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

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