The green netting put in place to prevent birds nesting at Rocks Green has been pulled away. This was not an act by the developer or the landowner. It was an action by eco-protesters. But this is a stupid way of protesting. A demonstration was organised next Sunday against this scheme and in support of the growing national campaign against hedge netting. But there is no longer a backdrop to the banners. The media are now unlikely to turn out.

The developer has confirmed that new netting will not be reinstalled.

I don’t approve of netting except under the most strictly regulated circumstances. Those regulations don’t yet exist and I have asked Ludlow’s MP Philip Dunne to attend a debate in Parliament to insist on better controls.

I understand where protesters are coming from on this. I can see why they thought there was a need to remove the netting. But this action has trashed the opportunity to raise the profile of the netting issue in Shropshire.

The netting has been causing controversy for weeks.

Some weeks ago, Pickstone Homes wrapped green mesh netting over the hedgerows ahead of its development of 200 homes off the A4117 south of Rocks Green. Netting is a tactic that developers have resorted to in the last couple of years as they try to push development ahead on ever tighter timescales. They are hampered by a rapidly growing nesting season. There were once five months when birds did not nest. This year that was down to well under four months. Hedgehogs no longer hibernate for as long as they did in my childhood.

There were three stages to the Rocks Green netting.

Stage 1. Loose Ends

Initially the netting was badly installed with gaps and both ends open.

2. Closure

The ends were closed with some loss of hedgerow. But one animal had to burrow out as the second image shows.

Stage 3. Removal.

These photos are from early this afternoon.

This was eco activism, vandalism, criminal damage, call it what you will. It may have got some people a buzz but I am far from convinced it was the best thing to do. If there was immediate evidence of wildlife being trapped, I would defend removal or slitting of any netting. But the action has destroyed the opportunity for a very good protest against a practice that should be outlawed by default and permitted only under the strictest controls.

This was an anti-protest protest. In planer English, a home goal. Demonstrators have been driving up support and preparing banners ready for a protest next Sunday. Media organisations werecommitted to coverage. But the scene for that protest and the media opportunity has now been stripped away.

This debate needs to move on from the current hue and cry towards getting a robust national ecological strategy in place. My view is that the default position should be that netting must be illegal. There may be some cases where netting cannot be avoided. These should subject to prior approval by the local authority and subject to strict guidelines on installation and inspection approved by the CIEEM and RSPB.

8 thought on “Bird netting at Rocks Green in Ludlow ripped away – a bad move ahead of a planned protest”
  1. Hi Andy, your argument doesn’t really hold water. It is rather like saying that it is a pity that some drowning refugees were pulled from the Mediterranean because corpses washed up on beaches make the point better.
    There are occasions when taking the law into the hands of activists is the only way.

  2. We don’t protest for the sake of protest. We don’t use nets for props. The damn stuff needs removing ASAP in every case. Demo outside the place of the person responsible. Don’t wait a few days for an animal to become entangled and die!!!

  3. So now that you have removed the evidence what is there left to protest against. !!!
    The young enthusiasts were keeping a close eye for anything trapped. This was part of the campaign.
    Sometimes there is too much of an immediate “knee jerk ” reaction by “do gooders” that deflates other people’s action.

  4. The publicity surrounding this issue has already been on the BBC and in the press so personally I think removing the netting and direct action is the only way to facilitate change.
    There is nothing to stop the planned demonstration and protest Andy – maybe it should include the revealing of this Governments allowing of the shooting of endangered species as well as netting?
    Asking Philip Dunne to step in is like asking a Turkey to vote for Christmas – he NEVER goes against Tory Party policies and defends the indefensible at every opportunity – see voting record on Badgers, Hunting etc etc

  5. I had been organising the peaceful protest. A lot of time and effort had gone into getting the media onside and the support of Bill Oddie OBE. There were many people wanting to attend. So the net is removed by activists and Pickstock aren’t putting it back up. But how much better for this cause if we could have got the message across about why we want the nets gone. How much better if Pickstock Homes to had then removed it themselves, then it would have put more pressure on other developers to stop using netting. How much better if we could have highlighted the work of local rescue centres who were supporting the protest and are involved in rescuing creatures on a daily basis. Now people are saying I can still go ahead with the protest… after some trolls suggesting all Andy and I wanted was to get our faces in the media. Thanks for dissing what we were trying to do, that really helps the cause and encourages others to organise protests in future doesn’t it? To those that just want to cut the nets down, I understand your motivation but I do not agree that this will help our petition through parliament.

  6. The netting was being checked regularly by the local community.

    This protest has never been about getting anyone’s face in the media. It’s about getting everyone’s face in the media as part of a mass movement. The reality of modern media is they don’t turn out for a local issue that is no longer an issue. I think we have now lost the opportunity .

    In an old fashioned phrase, we have won a battle but are in danger of losing the war. We must get this pratice outlawed or subject to much tighter regulation.

  7. Janet Cobb, well said re PHILIP DUNNE MP you are so right about Philip Dunne, he never, ever goes aganst the Conservative line – even when something is staring himin the face.the letters I’ve had from him, justofying his not doing sonething are legion,
    Paticularly on the brexit business. I have quoted facts and figures at hoim, onlyto be told the Maybot is working for the good of cou try. Absolute piffle.
    Jan Herbertson

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