COUNCIL bosses are set to decide whether to continue protecting endangered bird populations on St Mary’s Lands in Warwick.
Warwick District Council’s Cabinet will consider a report to undertake a further trial this summer to aid the recovery of skylarks which have historically nested and raised their young in the long grass.
From late February to the end of August the council is proposing to reinstate temporary protective measures around an area known as the Lammas Field where they are nesting.
The continuation of these measures, which has support from the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, local bird protection groups and the Warwick Natural History Society, follows a sharp drop in numbers of ground nesting birds breeding in the location in recent years.
However, the plans have faced criticism from conservation group The Friends of St Mary’s Lands.
The group is disappointed plastic fencing could continue to encroach on the space enjoyed by residents and dog-walkers.
Officers are recommending councilors agree to continue with the trial for another two years while also putting plans in place for a proper public consultation, as well as commissioning a follow up ecologist’s study.
An ecologist’s study was commissioned to evaluate the impact of the measures in 2022 and 2023 and found that skylark numbers were improving.
The study found however that the area north of the public right of way was not a popular location and the fencing should be moved to the south instead.
The ecologist added that unless there were other wildlife gains to installing permanent fencing, it seems too early to commit to that cost. She said she would prefer to continue with the temporary fencing in the alternative location and re-visit in a further two years.
The options before councillors are to do nothing and end the trial, continue with a modified area of fencing for a further two years or move to a permanently fenced off area that is seasonally open with permanent signage and bird watching spots along a ‘Skylark Trail’.
Officers warned that if councillors choose to stop the trial or choose a lesser means of protection then they need to consider the risk that WDC may be challenged over its impact on a protected species.
If agreed at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday (February 8), the protection measures will be installed later this month and run until the end of August.