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All birds and their nests are protected to some degree under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. In most cases it is advisable, if possible, to leave the nest in situ until the nestlings have fledged. If the birds are in danger or there is a public health and safety, disease or damage issue you can discuss the situation with a Natural England Wildlife Adviser or Wildlife Licensing Unit on 0845 6014523 or email wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk who can advise you on the best course of action.

If you are in Wales then you should contact the Welsh Government on 0300 062 2253 or email natureconservation @wales.gsi.gov.uk. If the purpose of the disturbance is educational, conservational or scientific then the Countryside Council for Wales should be consulted on 0845 1306 229 or email speciesprotection @ccw .gov.uk

It may be necessary to apply for a licence from one of the authorities above to move a nest. Disturbing a nesting site without a licence is an offence and can result in a fine or a custodial sentence.

Please note that it is not possible to issue licences to move birds' nests in relation to damage to property or to enable development/building works.

For more information in relation to obtaining a licence, please see the related websites.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.