AN investigation has been launched after netting was draped over a hedgerow to prevent birds from nesting.

The netting was put up along Conrad Road in Witham, near to a new housing development run by Sanctuary Housing.

Braintree Council has confirmed a probe has been launched into the matter and the netting has since been removed.

The netting was spotted by Braintree and Essex county councillor James Abbott who has hit out at what he labelled an “objectionable practice”.

He said: “Perhaps for the first time in our district there is a case of netting of hedges to prevent birds nesting – at least we assume that is what it is.

“Someone netted over two sections of hedge with a close-mesh plastic net that prevented birds nesting but also posed a threat to them and other wildlife getting caught in it.

“Hedge netting is a totally objectionable practice that should be outlawed.”

Mr Abbott has long called on Braintree Council to do more to protect hedgerows and green spaces which have been bulldozed by developers building new homes.

He added: “This also comes on top of significant losses of bird-nesting habitat with lengths of hedgerows, some hundreds of years old, in this area destroyed at Witham, Kelvedon, Silver End and Cressing.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We reported the netting to the police due to a possible wildlife crime being committed to stop birds nesting in hedgerows.

“The netting has now been removed following on from subsequent discussions with the developer for the site.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and liaise with Essex Police to help with their investigation.”

A spokesman for Sanctaury Housing said: “When we became aware of local concerns regarding the netting, we contacted our contractor for the site and asked for it to be removed.

“We can confirm it is no longer in place.”