Netting to stop birds nesting to be removed from Ely school during Easter break

Ely school criticised over tree netting to stop nesting birds. Picture: ELAINE EWART

Ely school criticised over tree netting to stop nesting birds. Picture: ELAINE EWART - Credit: Archant

Black netting draped over trees at an Ely primary school will be removed during the Easter break following uproar from residents.

Eighteen trees at Highfields Ely Academy, in Downham Road, had their branches covered with the protective nets last week.

In a statement issued this afternoon (March 28), Cambridgeshire County Council say they take “environmental responsibilities very seriously” and will remove the netting after “public concerns”.

It comes as the school has received “a number of letters” from people expressing concerns.

The nets were put in place to stop birds from nesting while a planning application to remove the trees is determined.

But residents took to social media to slam the council and the Active Learning Trust that runs the school, calling the situation “utterly disgraceful”.

However, Cambridgeshire County Council say it was the first time they had used tree netting and have “no evidence of birds being harmed”.

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The statement read: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and always seek the advice of ecologists to ensure that the impact on wildlife of our building projects is minimised.

“This is the first time that we have used tree netting and whilst we have no evidence of birds being harmed we have made the decision to act on the concerns of local residents and remove the nets during the Easter school holidays.

“We are also aware that the school has received a number of letters from people expressing concerns and we want to make sure that the school’s good relationship with the local community isn’t compromised.

“We have submitted a planning application to remove the trees, which is due to be determined later in the spring.”

Around 22 new trees will be planted in place of the trees if plans for their removal are approved, including native hedgerows, shrub beds and bat and bird boxes.

An extension to the school will also provide new facilities including a hydrotherapy pool, sports hall and fitness suite.

“There will also be a new space for pre-school age children and a centre to provide life skills and therapy for young adults with profound multiple learning difficulties between the ages of 19 and 25 – the first for Cambridgeshire,” a county council spokesperson added.