Lords debate mandating swift bricks in new homes

Hollow bricks are an ‘easy win’ to help several endangered species, say experts. 

Hollow bricks are an ‘easy win’ to help several endangered species, say experts.

An amendment to make swift bricks mandatory in new housing in England will be debated in the House of Lords this week in what campaigners call a “golden opportunity” to halt wildlife decline.

The swift brick is an unobtrusive hollow brick that provides a home for cavity-nesting species including the endangered red-listed house martin, starling and house sparrow, as well as other small birds and invertebrates.

Britain’s population of the migratory swift – whose “screaming” over house roofs is an evocative sound of summer – declined by 60% between 1995 and 2020. Since then, numbers have dropped further, from 59,000 breeding pairs to an estimated 48,000.

The loss of nesting sites – particularly with energy-efficiency measures sealing up old roofs – is a factor in the birds’ decline along with the decline of flying insects they feed on.

Swift Bricks

Fitting swift bricks to all new homes received cross-party support when it was debated in parliament in July after a government petition was signed by 110,000 people. The writer and campaigner Hannah Bourne-Taylor, who set up the petition, said: “Following unanimous cross-party support from MPs, the future of swifts in Britain, birds dubbed our ‘icons of summer’, is in the hands of peers, who have the chance to safeguard not only these irreplaceable birds, but our connection to the nature on our doorsteps.”

Josie Cadwallader-Hughes, Sustainability Director at Thakeham said: ”As new homes are built it’s imperative that natural habitat is respected, maintained and, where possible, improved. Swifts are creatures of habit and when they return to their nesting sites they must have somewhere to return to, to survive and to thrive.

Thakeham is incorporating swift bricks into our new home sites and supports the campaign for this inclusion to be mandatory at all new developments and part of the national biodiversity legislation.”

Swift Bricks


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