Protected birds halts £3m Rainworth sewage work

The pie wagtail nest in the crane.
The pie wagtail nest in the crane.

A protected bird species has halted work on a £3m sewage upgrade in Rainworth.

A nest of pied wagtail birds were discovered in the machinery of a 40-tonne crawler crane last month, and workmen have now been forced to ‘stand down’ the machine because the birds are protected by law.

Another crane is being brought in to replace it.

Severn Trent Water engineer Dan Cunliffe said: “We’re thrilled about the birds nesting in our machinery – it’s something that doesn’t happen every day and it’s brought a bit of excitement to the site and the people that work there. The work to upgrade Rainworth sewage works was going well until one of our teams spotted a bird’s nest in the crane. We’re fully aware of the regulations that protect nesting birds, so we stopped work immediately and the crane was ‘stood down’.

“Warning signs were put up, our teams were all briefed and the area around the crane was isolated.

“We asked an ecological specialist to advise us and they confirmed that it was a live nest with a female pied wagtail incubating a clutch of eggs. Since then the crane hasn’t been used and adjacent construction activities have been carefully monitored to make sure no harm comes to our site’s new feathered friends.

“Last week the eggs hatched and five chicks have been seen in the nest. A watching brief has been maintained and the nest is being closely monitored by our site staff and our contract partners, MWH, who all receive environmental and ecological training as part of their day to day job.

“We’re hoping that with all the care and attention they’re getting, the birds will successfully fly the nest when they’re ready. And then we can have our crane back!”

The multi-million pound investment at Rainworth needed upgrading to allow the sewage works to meet stringent legislation relating to river water quality, using the latest screening and filtration technology. Severn Trent Water says the new equipment will reduce overall operating costs and improve the performance of the site, allowing them to keep average bills the lowest in the country.