Habitats at nature reserve are being destroyed by hedge trimmers, claim angry residents

Written by on June 3, 2019

Angry villagers claim that birds and wildlife have had their habitats destroyed by hedge trimming at a nature reserve near Tamworth – and yet permission was given for the work by Natural England, the public body set up to protect the natural environment.

But residents are fuming that the hedges have been slashed during nesting season, at a site which attracts ornithologists from all over the country.

Local villager Claire Holloway said: “We discovered that permission was given by Natural England to Western Power to carry out a devastating massacre of trees/ hedgerow, nesting birds and wildlife bordering our Alvecote pools SSSI.

“Our parish council had no notification that this to happen in our parish, or it would certainly be challenged.

“This permission made to specifically protect nesting sites at this sensitive time of year, has destroyed a valuable wildlife corridor running alongside the pools and wetlands of the SSSI.

“The key point here is that if essential maintenance was required to the insulated low voltage power line it should have been done during the winter before the nesting season or from August onwards when the birds have flown,as the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 states.

“Of all the organisations who should know this only too well, Natural England should never have given this 
special permission at this time of year.

A section of the cut down trees along Shuttington Road near Tamworth. (Image: Tamworth Herald)
“It’s a disgrace that this organisation is meant to be safeguarding our wildlife! Whatever reason could there possibly be for this insensitive destruction of nesting sites at the height of the breeding season?

“Our local residents are disgusted at the state the road and pathway have been left in and the terrible devastation of the wildlife habitat.”

Chairman of Shuttington and Alvecote Parish Council, Kurt Kovach, agreed.

He said: “The SSSI is on both sides of that stretch of road, it is a lovely area. They should have done this before the nesting season or after the nesting season. What they have done is legal, but it’s insensitive.

“People come from all over to this site to see some rare birds – recently a Western Cattle Egret and a Ferruginous Duck were spotted here.”

But Western Power Distribution claim that its workers checked for any signs of nesting before they carried out the work.

 
A WPD spokesman said: “We carry out regular tree trimming as part of routine maintenance to ensure sufficient clearance from overhead lines.

“This helps us to supply reliable and safe electricity to homes and businesses and reduce the likelihood of power cuts due to trees. The recent tree trimming in Shuttington required permission from the councils in order to close roads and complete the work safely.

“We were mindful that the trees ran close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and we liaised with landowners and Natural England before starting any work.

Kurt and Lynda Kovach want to see something done to prevent the habitats being damaged (Image: Tamworth Herald)
“We gained permission from both parties, with Natural England requesting that we limit some of our trimming, which we did.

“We are conscious of the potential impact on wildlife, such as nesting birds, from tree trimming, so we inspected the trees for signs of nesting before and during the works.

“Natural England did request that we stop work should we see signs of nesting, however there was no sign of nesting and we were able to complete the tree trimming as agreed.”

A Natural England spokesman said: “Before any work, we carefully consider whether the activity could impact on the notified features of an SSSI – including the potential impact on nesting birds.

 “In this case, we gave permission for Western Power Distribution to carry out the hedge trimming work and were satisfied they had the correct working practices in place to prevent unnecessary disturbance of birds during the nesting season.”

 


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