Developers must do more to protect British wildlife< Back to Blog


Here’s a question for you: Do you know what a ‘swift brick’ is?

Just to be clear we’re not talking about some kind of super-fast magic brick that gets up on two legs and sprints it’s way to the finish line at the ‘brick Olympics’.

Swift bricks are actually a hollow style of brick that can be installed into the outer wall of a new home during construction. They’re designed to allow swifts to nest and breed peacefully.  (In case you’re not familiar with them, swifts are medium sized birds with scythe-like wings and forked tails. They spend most of their time up in the air and are usually seen racing across our skies in summertime.)

This is just one of the innovative measures which the UK government is now saying the construction industry should take on board in order to allow nature to thrive across new developments.

Following high levels of public interest for protecting much-loved British wildlife like swifts and hedgehogs, on 21st July this year the government announced its expectations of house builders around the long-term impact they have on local eco-systems and what they can do to protect specific species.


Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:

 “Building the new homes this country needs must not come at the detriment of our natural heritage.

“It’s right that as we deliver houses for people, we must also provide homes for wildlife too – whether that’s for hedgehogs, frogs, newts or birds.

“The public have told us that protecting wildlife is important to them – so my message to house builders is to harness this support and get building in a way that protects the environment for the next generation.”

As well as the ‘swift bricks’, the new guidance encourages developers to incorporate ‘hedgehog highways’ which are created by making space for hedgehogs to roam through gardens, allowing them to seek food and habitat. This can be achieved by making small holes in the base of garden fences, for example.

Additionally, Brokenshaw has called on developers to plant more trees and green meadows so that important insects such as the British honeybee are given a safe haven.


What else can we do?

Green, brown and bio-diverse roofing systems use a range of plant species that are designed to attract birds and insects into the urban environment, making them another really effective way for developers to ensure the homes they build are good for both people and the local wildlife. They can also be great locations for beehives with many new developments incorporating this feature.

As one of the leading installers of green-roof systems, Sheriff Construction is proud to be supporting this kind of work across London and the south east of England. We welcome the new guidance and hope also to play our part by using those swift bricks or building hedgehog highways soon!

Date: TBC

Image source: NHBS, Pexels, Sheriff Construction