Protest prevents removal of Swallow colony


The removal of a colony of Swallows nesting at an ambulance station in Shropshire has been delayed following lobbying by local conservationists.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said a licence has been granted by Natural England for the immediate removal of the birds from its Shrewsbury site and said it had been left with "no option" other than to act. It complained the birds' droppings pose a risk of infecting clinical equipment stored at the site.

The birds were set to be removed on Tuesday 25 July, but following discussions with local conservationists, it was agreed the birds would be allowed to depart on their own accord at the end of the breeding season.

The presence of Swallows at a Shropshire ambulance station made it make it "an unpleasant place to work", said a spokesperson (Ian Dickey).

Sarah Gibson, an author and former Shropshire Wildlife Trust worker of 23 years, expressed her disappointment at the initial decision, pointing out that the birds would be migrating south in a few weeks' time anyway and that some juveniles hadn't yet fledged. She said that the birds had been using the site for seven years without issue and that the removal was "unnecessary and misguided".

An ambulance service spokesman said "we simply cannot have birds" in the garage, an area where clinical equipment was maintained.

"Not only do the birds make it an unpleasant place to work, they are causing damage to equipment and there is the risk of their droppings infecting clinical equipment, a matter which has real risks for patients," he added.

He suggested a monthly clean-up bill for the equipment of £3,000, although it was not clear whether the sum was directly linked to the birds.