Sports club urged to remove netting amid hedgehog safety fears

Overstrand wildlife campaigner Maggie Wilcox in front of the netting and hedgerow.

Overstrand wildlife campaigner Maggie Wilcox in front of the netting and hedgerow. - Credit: Supplied by Maggie Wilcox

Concerns have been raised over the cutting back of a hedgerow and the installation of a net fence at a north Norfolk sports club.

Wildlife campaigner Maggie Wilcox, of Overstrand, said the measures introduced along a property border at Overstrand Sports Club in High Street could threaten species including hedgehogs. 

The club's chairman refused to comment on the issue, but has been in contact with North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker over it. 

Ms Wilcox said the hedgerow was an important habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and other insects.

She said: "Hedgehogs forage for food underneath using the hedgerow as cover and will also build their nests. The netting will easily trap a bird, amphibian, reptile and mammals including foxes, hedgehogs and deer causing serious injury and even death."

She called on the club to remove the netting. 

Mr Baker spoke about protecting hedgehogs in a recent debate in parliament, and is backing a CPRE campaign for 40pc more hedgerows by 2050. But he said he was "mindful" of the sports club's position. 

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Mr Baker said: "Following my campaign to protect nature, and, in particular, improve conditions for our hedgehog populations, I have been in touch with Overstrand Sports Club. The club is very close to the road and therefore balls have to be stopped from hitting children, adults and the public that are walking along into the town.

"The club has assured me it is making sure that wildlife is being considered at every step.

"However, I would always ask that people consider that netting - which is often used in people's gardens quite innocently - can result in our wildlife being trapped and snagged, which we must be careful to prevent." 

Ms Wilcox said she had also been in touch with Ed Maxfield, county councillor for Mundesley, over the issue.  

Mr Maxfield said that while he did not know the details of this situation, he had got many messages recently from people concerned that the county council was not properly maintaining verges and hedgerows by cutting them back.

He said the situation at the sports club felt like "the opposite side of the coin".

“It feels like this is connected to that even though it isn’t a county council issue," he said.  “If organisations are going to change the way they do things, they need to spend more time talking to people and explaining why they are doing it."