Neath Port Talbot Council will have to delay opening its popular Aquasplash water park facility on Aberavon Beach after contractors found Herring Gulls nesting in one of its water features.
Council biodiversity officers have visited the site and confirmed a pair of Herring Gulls were nesting in the water feature.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) it means the nesting pair cannot now be disturbed until the nest is empty.
Opening the attraction, which has been equipped with new changing facilities and updated toilet facilities, would amount to disturbance under the act and so would be unlawful and biodiversity staff also say that nesting birds will defend their eggs/chicks if approached.Herring gulls are Red Listed birds – these are birds in the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man listed as being in most urgent need of our help. It includes some of our rarest birds such as Hen Harriers and Capercaillie but also familiar birds like House Sparrows and Starlings, which have suffered huge declines. Although the location of this Herring Gull nest is unfortunate, it is good to see them nesting locally.
The nest in Aquasplash is on a ‘tipping bucket’ feature and it has been observed that the large bucket is currently quite full with rainwater. With the design of the feature, once it gets to a certain volume, it will automatically tip and potentially wash the nest away.
Given however that any human interference or activity around the nest could result in disturbance and subsequent abandonment of the nest, council officers are not able to intervene to prevent this from happening.
The council has liaised with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which has confirmed support for the council’s approach.
There will now be continuous monitoring of the situation and the facility will be open as soon as practically/lawfully possible.
A council spokeswoman said:
“The contractors on site showed professionalism in understanding their obligation to the law and to the gulls. We will continue to monitor the site and will also be taking steps to prevent this reoccurring in future years.”