Dorset police’s shiny HQ could pose ‘lethal threat’ to birds, says council

The shiny exterior of a new police headquarters in Dorset could pose a “lethal threat” to the local bird population.

Concerns have been raised by Wool parish council over the potential for bird deaths as a result of the reflective surface of the proposed building in Winfrith, the Dorset Echo reported.

The local authority said drawings of curtain walling on the building, which would provide a new headquarters for Dorset police, show the reflection of the sky, clouds and trees, raising fears that birds could be killed by inadvertently flying into it.

In a letter to Dorset council, the local authority said: “It is well documented that reflective surfaces on buildings cause tens of thousands of bird deaths as the birds attempt to fly though the surface into the landscape they see in the reflection.”

The council said colonies of house martins and swifts living in the local area, both migratory species on the red list for being in danger, could be at particular risk.

It continued: “Birds from these breeding colonies utilise space over the Frome water meadows and other insect-rich areas such as the pasture and wet scrubland adjacent to the police HQ.

“Both bird species would be vulnerable to lethal impact into reflective surfaces. It would appear that the vertical faces of this proposed building would have reflective surfaces, and without mitigation would pose a significant lethal threat to these birds.”

The plans, which feature bronze aluminium windows and outer walls, are being weighed up by Dorset council.

Although data on birds being injured or killed by flying into reflective surfaces in the UK is scarce, there have been several studies into the issue in the US.

A peer-reviewed study, published in the science journal PLOS One, found birds flying into buildings to be “the largest source of avian collision mortality in North America”.

Tom Hibbert, an ornithologist and content creator at the Wildlife Trusts, said: “For too long, the UK has built infrastructure at the expense of the natural world. It’s high time we put nature first.

“That means ensuring all new developments help to benefit nature, providing habitats and avoiding designs that put wildlife at risk.

“Shiny buildings and the reflections they create can be problematic for birds. There are things you can do to mitigate the risk, like using patterned glass and turning lights off at night.”


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