Rookery destroyed in Hertfordshire


Residents near Therfield Heath, Hertfordshire, are protesting after trees were felled at the A505 roundabout, destroying an active rookery in the process.

The trees were cut down by the council so approaching drivers could see the signs advertising a McDonald's branch easier, thus preventing them cutting across suddenly in a bid to reach the fast food outlet and causing accidents. According to local birder David Hatton, who surveyed the area 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.

"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."

It's thought some 14 active Rook nests were destroyed during the tree felling (Jane Rowe).

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."

A Hertfordshire 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."