CONCERNS have been raised over "abhorrent" netting placed on Shropshire hedgerows.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust says that numerous people have voiced concerns with them over the netting of hedgerows by property developers, for example in and around Pontesbury, Cockshutt and Ludlow.

The charity added that the netting is placed to try to prevent birds nesting and to

Robin Mager, of SWT, said that the practice was “abhorrent”.

"Our view is that hedgerows should be maintained wherever possible during construction works.

"If retention is not possible, then the minimum amount of vegetation should be cleared and this should be done outside the nesting season."

Disturbing nesting wild birds is illegal and clearance of hedgerows within five metres of an active nest is prohibited.

Netting hedgerows is not against the law, but is nonetheless a "very ugly practice” Mr Mager said.

"It frequently results in small mammals and birds finding their way inside the netting through gaps and tears. They then become trapped," he added.

The hedgerows also provide vital habitats for wildlife, giving food, shelter and nesting places to many birds, small mammals and insects.

Mr Mager added they also provide highways for creatures to move along, connecting woods and other wild places.

"Against a backdrop of worldwide environmental degradation, the practice of hedgerow netting and the signal of destruction it conveys, is deeply disturbing," he said.

"We call on developers to abandon the practice and put the protection of existing wildlife at the heart of their work programmes."

Shropshire Council says that it also has been receiving calls from residents.

A council spokesman said that, where planning applications are involved, the authority has been passing on reports to the developers.

"Normally we don’t put a condition on planning decisions regarding nesting birds as they have legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and, as such, birds are protected whether or not the planning process is involved," the spokesman added.

"But, we do raise awareness of the legal protection of nesting birds by putting information on the planning decision notice.

"The responsibility therefore rests with the persons authorising and installing the netting, and their ecological advisors, to ensure that an offence is not committed under wildlife legislation."

The spokesman said the council would always encourage developers to plan their work to avoid the bird nesting season and therefore prevent the need to use methods such as netting vegetation.

If members of the public see vegetation being cleared, which they know is supporting nesting birds, or birds are being trapped under netting and the owners cannot be contacted, they should call the Wildlife Crime Officer on 101.