Ely school criticised over tree netting to stop nesting birds

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

Archant

Black netting draped over trees at an Ely primary school to prevent birds from nesting has been slammed by residents.

Trees at Highfields Ely Academy, in Downham Road, had their branches covered with the protective nets earlier this week.

Council bosses say it is to ensure that no birds start to nest while a planning application to remove the trees is determined.

But residents took to social media to ask the Active Learning Trust, the group which runs the school, how the nets make children feel about nature.

One Ely woman wrote: “Why do this at a time when wildlife habitats are in steep decline? What are your pupils learning about our relationship with nature?”

Another added: “Seriously, what a sad, mean spirited species we can be. Utterly disgraceful at any time and even more so when our natural heritage is under such pressure.

“This netting should be taken down immediately and the law changed to prevent the netting of sites without planning permission.”

Cambridgeshire County Council, who works alongside the Active Learning Trust, said if plans were approved for the trees to taken down, 22 new ones would be planted as part of a landscaping scheme.

“We are aware of recent media interest in this locally and nationally,” a county council spokesperson said.

“Cambridgeshire County Council has submitted a planning application to remove the trees as part of a scheme to extend Highfield Ely Special School and provide children and young people with complex needs significantly improved accommodation.

“The trees have been netted to ensure that no birds start to nest in them whilst the planning application is being determined.

“If the application is approved the trees are scheduled to be removed to allow the necessary extension works to take place during the summer.

“In compensation for the loss of the trees, improvements will be made to the outside area, which includes a landscaping scheme and 22 new trees.

“New habitats will be provided to encourage biodiversity, including native hedgerow planting, new shrub beds and some bat and bird boxes.”

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