Your article (RSPB urges council to remove nets on cliff nests, 10 April) demonstrates the council’s inability to see the bigger picture. North Norfolk district council is in breach of several environmental laws, including the National Park and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Crow).
Under the Crow Act, the relevant local authority must make sure that all decisions have regard for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Norfolk coastline is a designated area. The sand martins have flown more than 5,000 miles from Africa to return to Bacton, where they roost, nest and feed every year.
The cliffs are home to various wildlife, including rabbits, insects and shrubs. We are in the middle of an extinction emergency, with many species disappearing, so this blatant intention to prevent breeding is reckless, shortsighted and arrogant. The NNDC website states that “only unvegetated sections of the cliff have been netted”, but yet today I saw areas of marram grass and several shrubs with netting draped over them. What is the point of seeking advice from the RSPB and other agencies if the council will simply ignore it? How much further damage will NNDC inflict before it will be too late rectify its actions? Rebecca Durant Winterton on Sea, Norfolk
The statement “that 70% of bird species had already gone” is a misunderstanding of David Attenborough’s point (Time is ‘fast running out’ for the planet, warns Attenborough, 12 April). According to Bird Life International, there have been 161 bird species extinctions since 1500, between 1 and 2% of total bird species. This is an extinction rate several thousand times faster than the “natural” rate during non-crisis periods in world history.
The 70% figure probably refers to the extremely steep and accelerating decline in total bird numbers worldwide in recent decades. Other species such as fish, insects and wild mammals have also suffered catastrophic decline. Evidence shows that human activity – including habitat destruction, over-fishing and the use of pesticides – is entirely responsible.Gregory Quiery Liverpool