Nesting falcons in condemned Portsmouth towers could delay plans to take them down

WORK to take down two city towers to make way for 440 homes could be delayed for several months if a pair of peregrine falcons aren’t ‘encouraged’ to move in time.
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Tower blocks Leamington and Horatia House in Somers Town, are due to be taken down in the spring next year after cladding removal revealed they were not structurally safe.

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‘Ambitious’ plans for 440 homes on tower blocks site
A peregrine falcon. Picture: David FokerA peregrine falcon. Picture: David Foker
A peregrine falcon. Picture: David Foker
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Now Portsmouth City Council must find a way to coax the birds to leave the site before the £10m work can begin.

Keith Betton, chairman of the Hampshire Ornithological Society, will be working with the council to find a solution.

He said: ‘Peregrines usually set up their nest in February and lay eggs in the middle or the end of March. They hatch in May and grow quite quickly, within six months.

‘They usually hang around for another month before leaving.

Peregrine falcons at Horatia House, Somers Town.

Picture: Darren BarnettPeregrine falcons at Horatia House, Somers Town.

Picture: Darren Barnett
Peregrine falcons at Horatia House, Somers Town. Picture: Darren Barnett

‘In order to not break the law we need to encourage the peregrines to nest somewhere else.

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‘I have discussed putting up some nest boxes, which are specially made to go on roofs, on a couple of neighbouring buildings soon so the birds can see them and think they will be a better place to nest.

‘If the council fails to get them to nest somewhere else that would mean it would have to be delayed until July or August. By law they are not allowed to disturb the birds while nesting.’

The council's housing boss, Councillor Darren Sanders, said they were ‘committed’ to protecting the falcons.

Keith Betton, peregrine falcon expert, will be working with the council to find a solution.Keith Betton, peregrine falcon expert, will be working with the council to find a solution.
Keith Betton, peregrine falcon expert, will be working with the council to find a solution.

‘We are committed to safeguarding these protected birds of prey and are working with the project's ecologist and the Hampshire Ornithological Society to agree the best approach and the actions we need to take before the deconstruction of the blocks begins in spring 2021,' he said.

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Taking down Leamington and Horatia, which is expected to take around 10 months, will then free the site for Portsmouth City 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.

Peregrine falcons and their nests and eggs are protected by law and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure them.

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