Quarry work halted by nesting falcons

PUBLISHED: 04:51 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:10 24 May 2010

NORTH Somerset Council could face prosecution after work it was carrying out in the old town quarry in Weston threatened to disturb some nesting peregrine falcons. The rare birds have the highest degree of legal protection given to wildlife and disturbing

NORTH Somerset Council could face prosecution after work it was carrying out in the old town quarry in Weston threatened to disturb some nesting peregrine falcons.The rare birds have the highest degree of legal protection given to wildlife and disturbing them close to their nest carries a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.Council contractors were clearing some of the vegetation off the wall of the quarry in South Road when they were told about the nesting peregrines and stopped work.Wildlife crime officer PC Andy Bibbings said:"At this time of year the birds are looking to make nests and settle down in the safety of cliff edges. If they are disturbed they might go elsewhere or not nest at all and the population would be several pairs down over the next few years."I was tipped off by a member of the public about the situation in the quarry and the work was stopped."This type of work should be done in the autumn or winter when the situation isn't so critical for these birds."I will be reviewing the circumstances to see if there was any disturbance. A prosecution may be brought if it proves the birds have been disturbed in any way."There are only about 1,400 pairs of peregrines in the UK and, with the ability to travel up to 180 mph, they are regarded as the world's fastest animal.A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "We stopped work as soon as we knew that the falcons were nesting. "We will continue to cease work while the nesting season takes place because we realise they are an important species."The work carried out was routine and for health and safety reasons. It involved vegetation clearing and rock removal to one of the walls. "Work will continue in the autumn to remove several large lumps of rock to maintain the safety of everyone using the area.

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