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They're back - joy as sand martins seen nesting at cliffs as netting is removed

PUBLISHED: 12:24 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:35 14 April 2019

The bird netting on Bacton cliffs is being removed. Picture: NNDC

The bird netting on Bacton cliffs is being removed. Picture: NNDC

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Sand martins have been seen nesting on Bacton cliffs as netting put in place by a council continues to be removed.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) said that removal of the bird netting, installed along a 1.3km stretch of the cliffs to stop birds nesting before work started on the Bacton/Walcott Coastal Management Sandscaping scheme, is continuing throughout today.

In a tweet, it said: “Netting removal as agreed with @RSPBintheEast continues Sunday morning, both on the cliff face with rope access and on the lower sections, by beach level access. Please be careful at the foot of the cliffs if watching.”

The placing of the netting designed to keep the birds away while 1.8 million cubic metres of sand is pumped onto the beaches to protect the coastline from erosion sparked outrage, which included protests and the RSPB calling for it to be removed.

NNDC announced on Tuesday, April 9 that it would instruct contractors to remove the upper level of the netting from the cliffs and people have taken to social media to celebrate seeing sand martins once again nesting.

Professor Ben Garrod tweeted: “Ahhhh what brilliant news! The #sandmartins are back! What a result.”

NestsNOTNets also tweeted: “#BactonSandscaping #SandMartins have been seen nesting in the uncovered holes this morning! So emotional! Thank you everyone! Now we must keep up the pressure to get all the upper nets removed!”

A video of some of the sand martins on the cliffs was also posted on Twitter by NorfolkBea.

In a statement, NNDC said: “Protection will be retained in the agreed areas over existing burrowing holes and potential nesting sites, however extensive areas will be removed.

“It has always been the intention to ensure the safety of this group of birds and its wider habitat – which stretches several kilometres to the north west of the site, through Paston, Mundesley and beyond towards Trimingham.”

The issue was also discussed on BBC Radio 2 where it was debated by presenter Vanessa Feltz and BBC Radio Norfolk’s Bob Carter.

Speaking earlier this week, the leader of NNDC Sarah Butikofer said she was “saddened and disappointed that apparent misunderstandings between council officers and the RSPB have brought us to this position” and that “concern for the conservation of bird, animal and marine life is of the utmost importance to me, and is at the heart of the Bacton-Walcott Sandscaping project”.

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