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Date published: 10th April 2019

We have had constructive talks between Natural England, the RSPB and contractors and recognised the seriousness of the challenges we all face. We have come up with a series of steps which have satisfied each party, the detail of which will be further discussed this week.

The upper levels of the netting in the central and West areas of the cliff will start to come down tomorrow following thorough safety assessments today. We understand the depth of feeling this has created and are working hard with the experts to resolve this pressing issue.

An RSPB statement has been issued which reads:

Our position

The RSPB has had further constructive conversations with North Norfolk District Council this afternoon. North Norfolk District Council has made a sensible decision to start removing the upper section of the netting along the central and western areas of the cliff face tomorrow.

We welcome this move and believe it is a good first step in the right direction. From here, the Council will also be looking at the middle section of netting and considering whether it is needed on a sectional, case-by-case basis.

However, the Council need to keep the bottom layer of burrows covered for the sandscaping project to happen in time to stop coastal erosion on the North Norfolk Coast. A huge amount of sand will be deposited on the beach, and if these burrows are left open to the sand martins to nest there is a high risk the burrows, and therefore sand martins could be suffocated, and sand martins killed. Ultimately, these nesting burrows will be covered as a result of the project.

We understand this need and recognise that these burrows must be covered and that sand martins will be able to relocate elsewhere. Whilst we remain understanding, we continue to push the Council to move to geotextile to prevent birds being caught in netting in line with our original recommendations.

We thank everyone that has brought this story to light and will continue to advise the Council on this issue to achieve the best outcome for sand martins.

Last updated: 10th April 2019