MANCHESTER Airport has called off a bird cull in Dunham that was due to take place this week, after an outcry from nature lovers.

Campaigners put up notices at the weekend saying the airport was to carry out a cull of a flock of rooks on Thursday.

The airport claimed the work was necessary because a rookery on Dunham Massey Golf Club course, which is National Trust land, is on a flightpath to the airport.

Campaigners, who claimed the cull was not necessary, set up an on-line petition that was signed by nearly 200 people.

And on Monday the airport announced a u-turn and said it would consult with the community before taking any action.

A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: "During a recent assessment it became clear that birds nesting in the woodland area at Dunham Massey Golf Club were commuting between the rookery and our airfield. In order to reduce the risk of an aircraft bird strike and maintain public safety we held discussions with the National Trust to decide on a solution.

“Plans were in place to adjust the habitat of the rooks on April 30, in accordance with the general licence issued by Natural England but instead we will be continuing talks with the local community as to how best to proceed with reducing the risks.

“The airport already operates a bird hazard management plan which involves specific measures to reduce the presence of birds on the airfield, including the use of dispersal techniques and habitat management measures. In addition to the measures taken on the airport site, we make regular assessments of the bird population at a large number of sites within 13km of the airfield in accordance with regulatory requirements.”

Campaigner Theresa Graham, the secretary of the Friends of Denzell Gardens and Devisdale in neighbouring Bowdon, said she was delighted at the news - but wanted details of how the airport was going to consult with the community.

The website opposing the bird cull claimed the loss of the rook flock would be “devastating and the damage is irreversible”.