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Campaigners celebrate victory over Tesco

Residents in North Berwick in East Lothian are celebrating after scoring a massive environmental victory over the Tesco supermarket in the town.

The store had removed nests belonging to endangered house martins and installed netting to stop them from returning.

Citing health and safety concerns, the store stuck to its guns for almost a month, before mounting pressure forced managers into a climbdown.

Campaigners took to the local media and were even featured on Jeremy Vine’s national BBC Radio 2 programme to raise awareness of the issue, gaining support from wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham, local MSP, the SNP’s Paul McLennan and co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, Lorna Slater MSP.

Organiser, Carole Fairhurst told the East Lothian Courier:

“We are protesting because we have tried absolutely every other avenue to encourage Tesco to remove this netting and they refuse to do so – this is all we are left with now.

“This is a red-listed species; they fly thousands of miles to come here and when they are going to arrive in only a few weeks, they are going to find they have no nest to return to.

“There’s about 30 nests under the eaves at Tesco and they have either been destroyed or completely netted off so they can’t return to any of them at all.”

In the face of increasing customer boycott threats and political pressure, Tesco relented and took down the nets this weekend, just in time for the returning house martins.

Local Green Party Council candidate Jacq Cottrell said:

“This is a huge victory for local residents. For weeks Tesco dug their heels in and refused to listen to expert advice and the strength of local feeling on the issue.

“The store managers should be commended for finally seeing sense and we hope this is the start of a better relationship between the town, nature and businesses.”

The RSPB in Scotland tweeted:

“We’re delighted to hear that Tesco have taken down the nets from their North Berwick store, providing migrating house martins access to their nesting sites. We commend this decision and applaud the people of North Berwick for showing so much passion in standing up for nature.”