Politicians urge builders to make space for the birds and the bees

Builders and developers will be urged to use bee bricks in any new buildings from September after councillors backed wildlife campaigners. And plans to make new buildings more friendly for an endangered bird species will be looked at in detail later this year when a report on “swift boxes” is published. The latest move to protect wildlife came at a Brighton and Hove City Council committee meeting this afternoon (Thursday 20 June). The council’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee discussed a change to its planning policy requiring developers to instal bee bricks as standard unless it was not practically possible. The change won unanimous cross-party backing, with Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth saying that Brighton and Hove should inspire other cities and lead the way in protecting bees. Councillor Nemeth is a beekeeper and called on the council to put the new policy in place as quickly as possible. He said: “When the negotiations get tough, the wildlife elements get pushed aside. “My concern is the lack of urgency and potential watering down of the requirement.” The committee was told that a planning condition requiring bee bricks in all suitable properties could be in place by the start of September. Bee bricks give solitary bees such as the non-aggressive red mason and leafcutters a place to lay their eggs, councillors were told. Once the bees have found a place to lay their eggs, they seal the entrance with mud and chewed-up vegetation, with the offspring emerging the following spring when the cycle starts again. The committee also received an update on a proposed change to planning policy to encourage developers to include swift boxes in their schemes to protect the endangered birds. Research is under way and a further report is expected when the committee next meets in September. Campaigners previously told councillors that swifts are under threat in Brighton as the largest and oldest colony was based around the Brighton General Hospital site which is expected to be redeveloped. Swifts cannot perch or land on the ground so spend their life flying except during the breeding season. They used to nest in trees but today they are almost totally reliant on houses for nesting sites but modern construction methods have made it hard for them to find nesting spots. Councillors were told that swifts were loyal to their nesting sites, with Brighton’s biggest colony placed at risk by plans for housing. They agreed to give officials more time to obtain specialist advice before agreeing what would be “best practice”. Like what we do? Help us do more of it by donating here. And don’t forget to sign up to our email newsletter, bringing you the week’s biggest stories every Thursday.