Please write to your MP asap regarding the Swift bricks debate.
I am contacting you in the hope you will take part in the debate of this petition Make swift bricks compulsory in new housing to help red-listed birds – Petitions (parliament.uk) scheduled for 4.30pm on Monday 10th July.
Without Swift bricks in new developments, four red-listed species of urban birds – Swifts, House Martins, Starlings and House Sparrows – have no nesting habitat in new developments.
The petition debate is a chance to examine the government’s view, so it is reviewed in the hope that a policy on Swift bricks can be included in the Levelling Up Bill or for Swift bricks to become a ‘species feature’ in the Biodiversity Net Gains as, contrary to the misleading government response, Swift bricks are not included in the Biodiversity Net Gains measure, nor are Local Authorities following the government’s advice or the extensive guidelines from the building industry, including the British Standard Institute, that recommends 1:1 ratio of swift bricks per new dwelling. Nowhere near enough Swift bricks are being installed. Raising this point in the debate will hopefully result in the government agreeing with the need to do more.
When these birds are united in their decline by the inadvertent blocking of their natural nesting sites in our walls, thanks to demolishment, house repairs and the huge insulation push, Swift bricks provide a necessary and proven conservation measure. Necessary in that, without them, there is a very good chance Swifts will become nationally extinct well within our lifetimes, thanks to a breeding decline of 60% in the past twenty years. Swifts are iconic and they, like House Martins return from Africa after 9 months on the wing, to the same nesting site every year. If they find their home blocked, they often fatally break their wings trying to get in, or can’t find a new home to breed. According to BTO swifts breeding pairs declined by 60% between 1995-2020, so cavity nesting sites for them to breed in are key to halt their decline.
When we are in a decade of nature recovery, this measure aligns with the government’s environmental and biodiversity targets but it also gives MPs the chance to safeguard the nature on our doorsteps for the sake of us too: 56.6 million Brits live in urban environments. If we don’t act now, these birds will be gone from our future, and we will rob our children and grandchildren of the daily nature connection that they offer that is so important.
Localised Swift conservation groups are safeguarding local populations (through awareness raising and the installation of external boxes) but halting declines of threatened species should not be left to volunteers.
I am well aware of the government’s response and on reading this, I hope you will see the opportunity that this debate gives government to review its current stance. Even if this not your normal focus as an MP, I hope you’re able to see how important this chance to add this straightforward measure.
Summer would never be the same again if the swifts and martins didn’t return. It’s just a brick, and with this brick, the government could also safeguard the vital nature connection that these wonderful birds offer to us right on our doorsteps.