Plans lodged to expand Kittiwake nesting tower in Gateshead to improve chick birth rates

The Kittiwake tower on the banks of the River Tyne in Gateshead
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Plans have been submitted to Gateshead Council to enhance a Kittiwake nesting tower to help improve chick birth rates.

Council officers are now considering plans to increase the number of nesting ledges on a Kittiwake tower, off South Shore Road. The proposals, from Norwegian energy firm Equinor, form part of “compensatory measures” associated with the development of two offshore wind farms in the North Sea, off the North Norfolk Coast.

Documents claim the increase in the number of ledges on the tower from 24 to 48 aims to increase “chick production” by around 87 chicks a year. According to an environmental report, produced by Royal HaskoningDHV and Equinor, this should offset the 17 adult Kittiwakes a year predicted to be killed due to the windfarms.

Documents supplied to the local authority by Equinor stated: “In order to avoid disturbance to nesting kittiwakes, modification works will be undertaken outside of the period when kittiwakes begin returning to Saltmeadows to build their nests and throughout the breeding season (i.e. February to August inclusive). If works are required within the nesting bird season, then an ecologist will check the area for nesting birds a maximum of 48 hours prior to the commencement of work. Works will be postponed should any nesting birds be present on-site during these visits.”

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Kittiwakes are in “real trouble”, with numbers declining since the 1970s. The British Trust for Ornithology has ‘red-listed’ the species.

In April this year, Kittiwake hotels installed on the Tyne Bridge during its renovation were reported as not being used by the birds. The bridge is home to more than 1,200 pairs of Kittiwakes, making it the furthest inland breeding colony in the world.