Bird of prey given alternative nesting sites to pave way for £12m work to Horatia House

A BIRD of prey now has alternative nesting sites in the city - paving the way for £12m work at a tower block.
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Portsmouth City Council took the advice of Keith Betton, chairman of the Hampshire Ornithological Society, and agreed to install three nesting boxes at locations close to Horatia House where the birds were discovered nesting in August.

The authority’s plans to take down the building and adjacent tower block Leamington House next spring could be delayed by months if the protected bird of prey is still inhabiting the site then - with nesting season in full swing.

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Mr Betton said he was pleased with the council move to have nesting boxes but has warned they need to move quickly with work.

A peregrine falcon. Picture: David FokerA peregrine falcon. Picture: David Foker
A peregrine falcon. Picture: David Foker
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‘This is good news for Portsmouth's peregrines, and it is great that the council is taking care of its wildlife,’ he said.

‘Often peregrines must nest in gulleys that can flood after rain, or they end up in places with little shelter from any of the elements.

Nature is unpredictable, and we can't be sure that the peregrines will find these new homes, but these purpose-made boxes provide them with an alternative choice.'

Horatia  House 

Picture : Habibur RahmanHoratia  House 

Picture : Habibur Rahman
Horatia House Picture : Habibur Rahman
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He added: ‘Normally when work is carried out on buildings peregrines move elsewhere but if no work happens they may try and nest at Horatia House again.

‘The council has to move quickly and deconstruct the building. The council has done more than any other council in the same situation.

‘They could have said “we can’t help” but have instead said “this is the best we can do”.

The council would not say exactly where the new nesting boxes are but they are on tall buildings owned by the authority in the city.

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A spokeswoman for the council said: ‘I've had confirmation from the housing, neighbourhood and building services team that they have provided nesting boxes at alternative sites within the city.

‘It is not currently the nesting season so the peregrines are not currently nesting at the site.

‘We are continuing to work with local experts regarding the peregrine falcons and have provided nesting boxes at alternative sites across the city. We cannot provide the location as peregrine falcons are protected.

‘It is not currently nesting season so the peregrines are not currently nesting at the site.’

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The Somers Town blocks are due to be taken down after cladding removal following the Grenfell Tower tragedy revealed that they were not structurally safe.

Taking down Leamington and Horatia, which is expected to take around 10 months, will then free the site for the council to build 440 new homes.

The towers were home to 272 households. They will be taken down ‘panel by panel’ instead of being demolished.

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