WONDER OF NATURE: Thousands of starlings over Whorlton – they spend the night in a hedge that will be cut down
WONDER OF NATURE: Thousands of starlings over Whorlton – they spend the night in a hedge that will be cut down

PLANNING officers are to speak to developers to see whether starling roosts should be protected after a murmuration became a dale attraction.

Thousands of starlings have been using a laurel hedge for a roosting site in Whorlton.

They create beautiful patterns in the sky above the village, before swooping down together to spend the night in the hedge. However, three properties are being built on land behind the hedge. The application for the homes, submitted by landowner John Richardson in 2015, includes plans to remove the hedge to open up the view.

MP Helen Goodman has expressed her concerns at plans to destroy the site, saying it would be an “environmental disaster”. Others have also called for it to be saved, although some residents say the smell is awful and the site is a health and safety problem.

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Durham County Council is to talk with the developer about the roost’s future.

Stuart Timmiss, Durham County Council’s head of planning and assets, said: “All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law, specifically the Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

"We will be in contact with the developer to determine whether there are any reasonable options available to protect the roost site over the winter months, however the legal protection does not extend to their roosting sites.”