A Feathered Pause: Respecting Nature in Infrastructure Development


04 Sep 2023

A1 Birtley to Coal House Feathery Friend Makes a home in an unusual place

A1 Birtley to Coal House Feathery Friend

In construction, nature occasionally reminds us of its presence in unexpected ways.

Such was the case in the A1 Birtley to Coal House project, where a feathered family created a unique challenge!

At junction 66 of the A1 at Eighton Lodge, crucial work was scheduled on the southern underbridge. However, a surprise awaited the construction crew - a bird's nest.

Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, all wild birds, nests, and eggs are protected. In late July, pied wagtails nested within a stack of drainage pipes ready to be installed. This discovery prompted a re-evaluation of our plans.

Before the nest was spotted, a machine operator had accidentally removed the top pallet of pipes from the stack. However, the vigilant banksman noticed the nest with eggs and immediately reinstated the pallet. Warning signs went up, and the pallet stack with the nest and eggs was secured.

Despite this interruption, the adult birds continued to care for their eggs.

So that we could continue construction while ensuring the birds' safety, a solid platform was needed for the crane used in the beam lift. Construction began on the platform, except for the area where the bird nest was located.

The beam lift date was imminent and yet it was clear that the birds were still actively feeding their young. In a compassionate decision, the beam lift was postponed by seven days to avoid disturbing the birds and their habitat.

Helen Burrow, National Highways Birtley to Coal House project manager, explained, "We have been aware of the birds nesting within the area, and we have decided to postpone the planned bridge beam removal by seven days to make sure the birds’ habitat and fledgling chicks are not adversely affected. This seven-day postponement will have no effect on cost or time it takes for us to complete the scheme."

When work resumed we were able to confirm that the fledglings and adult birds had left the nest, likely having successfully taken flight over the weekend. The pallet stack, their former home, was removed, and construction of the crane platform continued.

The subsequent beam lift was smoothly carried out during the following weekend.

While the situation presented challenges for the construction schedule, it shows National Highways and our contractors, Costain’s commitment to wildlife protection and environmental responsibility.