North Berwick Tesco store installed nets to stop endangered birds from nesting, sparking protest from locals

Locals have planned a demonstration outside a Tesco in East Lothian to protest the store’s decision to prevent house martins nesting.

A group of house martins usually nest in the roof of the Tesco in North Berwick. However, they will be unable to this year, as the store have destroyed their existing nests and put up netting blocking the nesting site.

Local bird-lovers are concerned that the house martins are unlikely to relocate, due to a lack of suitable habitats in the surrounding area, which could cause a decrease in breeding.

In 2020, there were thought to be around 29 active nests in the roof of the North Berwick Tesco store.

House martins were recently moved up to the Red List of birds at risk of extinction across the nation.

A peaceful protest will be held outside the supermarket at 12pm on Sunday, March 20.

One of the organisers, Angela Paterson, believes there could be 200 less house martin chicks this year in North Berwick as a result of Tesco’s decision.

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A Tesco store in North Berwick has come under fire for putting up nets to stop an endangered bird species nesting.

Senior Tesco employees said the netting was put up for safety and hygiene reasons, however, Ms Paterson believes there are other solutions the store could take.

She said: "This is a town of nature and bird lovers. People from all over the country come to visit our Seabird Centre and Local Bird Sanctuaries. Numbers of House Martins are dwindling and we need to do whatever we can to preserve any endangered species.”

Ms Paterson said she does not wish to criticise local Tesco staff, but instead blamed those at the corporate level. She claimed the complaints posed by her and other concerned residents had been ignored, and added: “To neither consider nor respond to the community on a matter such as this is both disrespectful and unprofessional.”

She continued: “The campaigners are delighted with the support from the community and many are prepared to protest later this week. However, we remain hopeful of a positive outcome.”

The number of house martins in the UK has fallen rapidly. The species was recently moved to the red list of Britain’s most endangered birds.

A spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland also criticised Tesco’s decision. They said: “RSPB Scotland is again concerned by the use of netting to prevent birds nesting, this time by Tesco.

"We cannot keep trying to squeeze nature into smaller and smaller spaces or demanding it fits in with our plans.

"We all need nature in our lives – which means giving birds and other wildlife, more, not less room to breed, feed and sing.

“House martins have recently moved to the Birds of Conservation Concern Red list (2021) BB 2021 DECEMBER (Med-res) (britishbirds.co.uk), however it’s not entirely clear what the causes of the declines are at the moment. “They prefer to nest in existing nests (and will use artificial house martin nests), so removal of their old nests or blocking nesting sites under eaves isn’t great for a species already under threat.”

A Tesco Spokesperson said: “The netting is in place as a safety and hygiene measure to prevent birds from accessing the roof space and dropping faeces onto the customer area below.”

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