City Building takes swift action over bird conservation

(from left) Gerry McHugh (GHA project manager) John Brown (GHA local asset officer) Elaine Boyne (resident) Iain Blackburn (site manager) Kenny Cullen (site manager)
(from left) Gerry McHugh (GHA project manager) John Brown (GHA local asset officer) Elaine Boyne (resident) Iain Blackburn (site manager) Kenny Cullen (site manager)

City Building is putting its construction skills to a new use by helping to build Glasgow’s swift population.

The building contractor is installing swift nest boxes as part of roofing and rendering works being carried out on Glasgow Housing Association properties in the Partick area of the city. Four have already been fitted, with a further three due to be installed as the contract progresses.

City Building embarked on the project after tenants raised concern that the roofing works would have an adverse impact on nesting birds.

Swifts are summer visitors to Scotland, arriving from Africa in May and leaving in August.

Across the country, there has been a 60% decline in the number of swifts as renovation and modern construction techniques eliminate the cavities in which urban birds traditionally nest. In Glasgow, swifts nest mainly in older sandstone properties and in peripheral housing estates built in the 1930s to 1950s.

SML CB - SwiftBoxes (03)Elaine Boyne, who is a resident at the Partick site where City Building is carrying out roofing works, was among the tenants who sought action to protect the swifts that nest in the local tenement buildings.

She said: “I’ve lived in a top floor flat for over 30 years and every summer I look forward to the swifts returning from Africa to their nests in the gable of the neighbouring building.

“When the building work started, I felt strongly that something should be done to continue to protect these birds, especially as they like to return to the exact same spot.”

Residents were supported by conservation body Concern for Swifts (Scotland).

Clare Darlaston from the project said: “GHA and its contractor City Building have provided an excellent example to other housing organisations in making provision for the conservation of swift nest sites. Many people look forward to the arrival of the swifts as a sign of summer, and it would be a real loss if the city’s population declined any further.”

Swifts are protected under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, which makes it illegal to recklessly destroy, disturb or obstruct the nest site during the nesting season.

SML CB - SwiftBoxes (02)Alan Burns, deputy director of City Building, said: “It has been extremely rewarding to get involved in the Partick project and play our part in protecting a declining species. Working with local communities in this way is part of our socially inclusive approach which aims not only to create jobs and training opportunities but also to enhance the quality of life on offer throughout the city.”

Glasgow Housing Association’s north west area director, Jackie Morris, added: “Our local team has enjoyed working with City Building and local residents on this conservation project.

“We’re always looking for tenants’ ideas on how to improve our communities and make them even more welcoming for visitors – and that includes our feathered friends visiting for the summer.”

City Building is set to enter a 50/50 joint venture worth £3.7 billion with Wheatley Group, the parent company of Glasgow Housing Association. The partnership will see City Building undertaking all repair work for GHA and Wheatley’s other social landlords in the west of Scotland in a move that will secure thousands of jobs over the next 30 years.

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