Sheffield Swift Network is calling for ‘Swift Bricks’ for all new builds​​​​​​​

Installation of a swift brick is as easy as fitting an air brickInstallation of a swift brick is as easy as fitting an air brick
Installation of a swift brick is as easy as fitting an air brick
The Sheffield Swift Network is calling on Sheffield Council to make Swift Bricks mandatory for all new builds and extensions.

Swift Bricks help swifts and three other endangered species. The petition calls for simple, low-cost, unobtrusive and most importantly permanent nesting opportunities in all new buildings and extensions of two storeys and above.

They are asking Sheffield Planning Department for a specific policy in the new Sheffield Plan and Sheffield Residential Design Guide.

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This will guide developers and consultant ecologists. South Yorkshire Bat Group are pushing for the same in relation to bats, which already benefit from much greater legal protection.

Common swift in flight in its natural enviromentCommon swift in flight in its natural enviroment
Common swift in flight in its natural enviroment

In June 2021, all parties on Sheffield City Council unanimously declared a Nature Emergency, recognising that our country is one of the most nature-depleted in the world.

The council has committed to developing a comprehensive Nature Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Sheffield.

This will feed into the local plan ensuring developers take far more care of our environment and preventing schemes that destroy our natural environment.

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Swifts have declined by over 50% in the UK. Adult swifts, known for site-fidelity, return to the same nests.

Nicola Gilbert who launched the petition says, “It’s now or never really. We have to do our bit here in Sheffield to halt the extinction of these birds.

“There are many environmental problems we can’t solve. But we can make a difference to these wonderful, amazing little birds.

"Swifts need holes in buildings to nest and rear their young. They fly up from Africa to nest. Our long summer days give them more hours to feed their chicks.

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“Swifts migrate from southern Africa returning to nest in nooks and crannies in our walls where they are tidy and quiet neighbours.

"Upgrades and modern building methods block them out. We understand the need to make properties weathertight and insulated.

"Swift Bricks give them a place to nest in harmony with building improvements. They are cheap and easy to put in and are becoming standard around the country.”

The work of local swift groups across the country has inspired author and conservationist Hannah Bourne-Taylor to launch a national campaign for swift bricks, addressing the Prime Minister and garnering the support of Piers Morgan. She said: “Swifts define our summers and fill our skies with joy. Record breakers, they spend more time airborne than any other bird on earth, sleeping on the wing, living in the sky, crossing deserts, oceans, continents without landing.”

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Several other councils have already introduced such measures. Since June 2020 Brighton & Hove City Council has required all new developments over five metres tall to include habitats within their construction to house swifts.

Its planning service has published a special guidance note which sets out the types of Swift Bricks that can be installed, how they should be selected and how many are required for each scale of development.