Farne Islands no fly zone to become permanent

A NO-FLY zone introduced over a Northumberland wildlife haven after an incident in which birds were killed is to become permanent.

Kittiwakes on the Farne Islands
Kittiwakes on the Farne Islands

A NO-FLY zone introduced over a Northumberland wildlife haven after an incident in which birds were killed is to become permanent.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed an exclusion zone created over the Farne Islands following the incident earlier this year will be in situ in future breeding seasons.

The news was last night welcomed by the National Trust, which owns the islands, and the owner of a company which takes boat tours to them.

A Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft is said to have flown low over the Farnes, off the coast of Seahouses, in June.

The islands have a population of 80,000 pairs of seabirds, including kittiwakes which were in the midst of breeding season and nest in cliffs there.

The noise of the low flying is said to have shocked some of the adult kittiwakes, causing them to accidentally tip their chicks out of their nests.

The young birds then fell into the North Sea below and drowned.

The incident was reported on social networking website Twitter by trust head warden on the islands David Steel and Andrew Douglas, who runs the boat tour company.

Both men criticised the RAF for carrying out low-flying over the islands during breeding season and claimed such incidents had happened before.

They also said the air force had been asked not to carry out low flying during the season.

The MoD revealed it had received complaints and vowed these would be investigated, and action taken.

It announced a no-fly zone was being put in place around the islands for the remainder of the year’s breeding season.

And it said it would continue talks to ensure “a long-term solution is in place for future years.”

Now, the MoD has revealed the no-fly zone will be in place every breeding season.

A spokesman confirmed: “Post discussions with all interested parties a seasonal avoidance will be issued for future years, for the duration of the breeding season.”

A trust spokesperson said: “The RAF were extremely helpful and supportive.

“They worked quickly to find a solution to reducing any disturbance of breeding seabirds caused by low flying over the Farne Islands. We will continue to work closely with the RAF and by doing so we feel confident this matter is resolved.”

Mr Douglas added: “It is absolutely fantastic news. It is a massive area of birds that wants to be looked after.”

Meanwhile, the MoD revealed no action had been taken against any personnel after June’s incident.

The spokesman said: “The Defence Flying Complaints Investigation Team conducted an investigation into the incident and reported that “no offence has been identified” as there was no seasonal avoidance for the Farne Islands at the time of the over-flight.”


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