Councillors' swift decision gives threatened birds new home

March 16, 2010 12:18 PM
Susannah Kerr

Susannah Kerr

Cambridge City Councillors are flying ahead with a £35,000 project to establish a new colony of swifts in the city.

They have given their backing to a plan for a Swift Tower at Pye Fen on the Logan's Meadow Local Nature Reserve to raise awareness of the species which has been declining in the UK because nesting sites have been lost when buildings are demolished or renovated.

The tower would be visible from the Riverside cycle bridge, which would provide a

viewing platform where residents would get a unique eye-level view of the of swifts entering their nesting boxes.

The project would be funded with £20,000 from the Section 106 money through the city council's Public Art Initiative Fund and the Improve Your Neighbourhood Scheme fund.

Cambridge City Councillor Susannah Kerr, who will join a working party to develop the idea, said: "This is an extremely worthwhile project which would not only help to protect a declining species but would give residents the opportunity to see these birds in their natural habitat."

The project supports Cambridge City Council's pledge to back the United Nations' 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.

The first stage of the project will create a tower, to be installed in May 2011, for up to 150 pairs of swifts.

A second stage will be the development of a temporary art project celebrating the installation of the tower and marking the international lifestyle of the swift to raise awareness of its plight.

The artist will involve local residents and create the work in partnership with a local school.

Swifts can fly up to 20,000 feet high and migrate to Europe for three months in the summer before returning to Central and South Africa.

Cllr Kerr added: "This project will involve the local community in the design and will provide a permanent home in Cambridge for these beautiful birds after their epic journey from Africa."

The project, backed by members of the council's environment scrutiny committee today (Tuesday) has already won the backing of the Public Art Panel and now it will go out to public consultation.

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