Bognor Regis Yacht Club has responded to allegations it illegally disturbed birds nests during nesting time by cutting back a hedgerow.
The West Sussex Wildlife Protection said birds nests belonging to a small bird, perhaps robins or blackbirds, had been revealed in the hedge in Victoria Road outside the club.
Jaine Wild, a spokesman for the organisation, said the nests were protected at this time of year under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
She said: “This work to the hedgerow should not have been carried out during the nesting season.
“There is no excuse. There are many months during Autumn and Winter that hedge clearance and ground clearance can be done without the worry of bird disturbance and most home owners understand this.
“The police have been informed and will investigate.”
Jaine said it was important to protect the nests as many birds will return to the same nest they have made two or three times a year in order to lay their eggs.
Responding, a spokesperson for the yacht club said the hedgerow was cut as it was ‘becoming a danger’ to members of the public.
Its statement read: “We were aware of the nesting birds, hence why the hedge cutting wasn’t finished. At no point in the maintenance of the club, or it’s surroundings would we put nesting birds or any other wildlife at risk.
“We cut as much of the hedge as possible as it was becoming a danger to members of the public due to restricted pathway and our cars leaving our car park had a very restricted view of passers by, which could have resulted in an accident.
“The cutting of the hedge will be finished once the birds have finished nesting.”
It continued: “The experienced and conscientious contractor, who undertook the job of cutting our hedge to a safe height and width, took the time to watch the hedge for birds entering before cutting, he cut slowly from the outside by hand to ensure that he could see if any nests were present, the reported nests in question were old and empty and along the main part of the hedge, birds entering only nest at a height of 4ft or lower and the hedge was cut to a height of 7ft and where there were birds nesting higher, at our car park end, he left the hedge and is going back to check and cut if empty in a few weeks time.
“In addition to this, a local resident who is adjacent to the club and an avid environmentalist spent time talking to the contractor about his approach to cutting the hedge and protection of nests. She was very impressed with the level of caution he was taking, his approach and ethics towards his work and the protection of the wildlife. She was satisfied that there weren’t any active nests disturbed or damaged.
“Following completion of the hedge cutting, it will need very low maintenance and will promote a future healthy hedge that will enhance a nesting habitat for the wild birds.
“Our consideration towards the wildlife is a high priority of Bognor Regis Sailing Club.”