Royston residents ‘appalled’ by destruction of bird nests on A505 roundabout

PUBLISHED: 06:59 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:39 30 April 2020

Rook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: David Hatton

Rook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: David Hatton

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Residents living near Therfield Heath are protesting after trees were felled at the A505 roundabout, destroying the habitat of nesting birds.

Rook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: Ray MundenRook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: Ray Munden

According to Royston bird authority David Hatton, who surveyed the area for the conservators at the beginning of April, there were previously 14 occupied rook nests on the roundabout.

He said: “Although rooks can sometimes damage crops and they can be controlled by farmers at certain times, their presence in rural towns is generally very highly regarded and their ‘cawing’ calls and tumbling display flights are much loved – even Shakespeare had a soft spot for them. I can’t imagine that this would be easy to justify, given how straightforward it would be to trim/remove the trees at other, much less critical, times of year, such as the period August to January, when the birds would not be attending the rookery.

“Furthermore, damage to the site will likely destroy associated nests of other much-loved protected birds in the copse.”

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Cynthia Combe, clerk to the Conservators of Therfield Heath, said: “Having watched the nests being built over the last few weeks, I was appalled to see the destruction of the active nests on the McDonald’s roundabout.

“The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) states that it is an offence to intentionally damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built. There can be no reason why these trees should need to be removed now rather than at a time of year when nesting is not in progress.”

Royston resident Ray Munden said the trees were removed so drivers could see the signs advertising McDonald’s earlier, preventing them cutting across suddenly and causing accidents.

He suggested a new, large sign would be the best option, saying: “Whoever asked for and approved this should be totally ashamed of themselves.”

Rook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: Ray MundenRook nests were damaged after trees were felled on the A505 roundabout in Royston. Picture: Ray Munden

A Herts county council spokesman said: “The trees and vegetation are being removed to improve visibility, and therefore safety, on the roundabout.

“As this is a safety scheme, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued a general licence that allows us to undertake this kind of work during the nesting season. However, we are taking measures to avoid disturbing nesting birds wherever possible.”


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