Kate Smith, chief executive of Connexus, has responded to Tracey Huffer’s complaint about the destruction of bird nests, death of fledglings and possibly disturbance of bats on Tuesday. Her full response is below.

The essence of the response was that Connexus received a report of rats and employed contractors to clear an overgrown garden including a tree which was judged to be dangerous. It was not aware that birds were present and has apologised to residents.

The response from Connexus does not provide a convincing explanation of why this crime happened. If there were rats present a professional pest control company should have been brought in. It would have been well aware of the Wildlife and Countryside Act which says disturbance of nesting birds or bats is illegal. Other parts of the response don’t stack up.

Some of the felled trees
Was this tree dangerous?

Connexus says it did not know that bird nests were present. It is just about impossible to miss bird nests this time of year. A moment’s listening and anyone can hear the chicks chirping and black birds clacking to warn of danger. The contractors were not wearing ear protectors (or any other safety gear for that matter) so would have been aware.

Up to five trees were felled, not one. All the stumps show the trees were healthy. They probably needed branches cut back and crowning as part of routine tree management. An experienced arboricultural contractor would have known this and would have identified whether any bird nests or bat roosts were present.

In an interview with BBC Radio Shropshire, Sarah Woodhall of Connexus said:

We had reports of anti-social behaviour and rats in the vicinity. A report about a tree that was potentially dangerous and needed to come out, so we ask our contractors to take the tree down and deal with the vegetation that was overgrown. We have really apologised that there were nests and other wildlife. It was not our attention to cause any distress. We’re very grateful for the residents for bringing it to our attention. We’ll be doing some work with our contractors about how we can prevent this in the future.

These excuses don’t stack up. It is clear that the contractors had no arboricultural expertise. They had no experience in pest control. They knew nothing about the Wildlife and Countryside Act. So why were they employed? And of course, this action would have not got rid of the rats, merely persuaded any surviving vermin present to move on.

Response from Kate Smith to Tracey Huffer

Following your email on Tuesday evening, our executive director Sara Woodall and senior managers have visited Sandpits Avenue today and has apologised to residents.  To bring you up to speed, the work was arranged because we had reports of rats in the garden of an unoccupied house at Sandpits Avenue, so we asked our contractor to clear and tidy the overgrown garden. On arrival they found and removed a dead tree which was potentially dangerous and cleared other overgrown vegetation.  

Last night, following the clearance, we were made aware that there were birds’ nests in the vegetation. We’re grateful for your efforts and that of the local community for bringing this to our attention, alerting the RSPCA, and helping rescue wildlife.  

We’re conducting a thorough investigation into what happened and sincerely apologise for the upset caused.  Please be assured that we’re taking this very seriously and have put work on hold at this property while the investigation takes place. We’ll also be working with our contractors, so they’re better able to spot potential nesting sites in the future.  

As part of our commitment to the regeneration of Sandpits Avenue and surrounding areas we will be planting native hedgerows and mature trees to increase habitat for local wildlife and will talk about this in future discussions. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention and once again, please accept my apologies for the distress caused to the local community.  

Residents and Connexus spoke to Faith Page from BBC Radio Shropshire:

One thought on “Connexus responds on destruction of bird nests on Sandpits Avenue”
  1. I don’t trust Connexus to do more than plant those hedgerows they are promising. Hedges don’t maintain themselves. It’ll be up to Sandpits residents (and maybe other Ludlow residents, by their invitation) to maintain it, I reckon.

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