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Stone curlew could halt housing plans in Norfolk

The stone curlew is on the RSPB amber list, with around 380 pairs

Natural England has said the Breckland area of Norfolk is a key nesting site for stone curlew, encouraging Breckland Council to admit that locations earmarked for new homes might no longer be suitable.

Natural England highlighted that protection for certain areas has recently been removed, making it easier to build on them.

Breckland Council member Sarah Suggitt said: “The Brecks is an area of significant value to birdlife, including stone curlew, woodlarks and nightjars, and the Special Protection Area is designed to protect this landscape.”

There are currently plans for urban expansion near Thetford that would include up to 5,000 homes, whose development could be affected.

Stone curlew, which are on the RSPB’s amber list, sank to a population of just 180 pairs in the 1980s but have rebounded to around 380 pairs today.

East Anglian conservationist Richard Negus told ST: “The Brecks used to be a unique habitat, but it is increasingly being encroached upon by intensive farming and development. The stone curlew has a very specific set of requirements to thrive, and unless developers can truly mitigate the damage to the stone curlew’s habitat, I don’t think developments like these should go ahead.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.