Red Arrows forced to change flight path at air show due to rare birds

The Red Arrows in a practice formation. Picture Cpl Andy Benson

The Red Arrows in a practice formation. Picture Cpl Andy Benson - Credit: Crown Copyright

A no fly zone could be put in place at Great Yarmouth Air Show after fears were raised that nesting birds may be disturbed.

Little tern, Photo: Kevin Simmonds

Little tern, Photo: Kevin Simmonds - Credit: Kevin Simmonds

The organisers of the show, due to take place on June 16 and 17, are considering a further no fly zone which would cover planes flying to and from the show to protect little terns after the RSPB raised strong concerns over the impact of aircraft noise.

Flight paths approaching and leaving the show have been changed to protect little terns who use Scroby Sands as a foraging area, with the Red Arrows being the only display to be affected due to their size and speed.

The RSPB had wanted watchdog Natural England to stop the air show.

Jeff Knott, East of England regional director, said aircraft passing close to Scroby Sands could cause adult birds to leave nests, potentially leaving eggs and chicks exposed and without food for long periods of time.

The show’s organisers, the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, said it is considering taking further action.

David Marsh, director and company secretary, said: “Flying lines have already been adjusted to mitigate any threat to Scroby Sands, and we are keen to ensure that any damage to the tern population is avoided at all costs.

Most Read

“We are now considering a wider no fly zone for further bird protection and will not be flying over nesting areas.

“The majority of planned flights are not impacted and we gather that Natural England were minded to give their assent conditional on final agreement on habitat assessments.”

The RSPB also is calling on Natural England, the Civil Aviation Authority and Great Yarmouth Borough Council to consider further measures.

They include assessing appropriate flight lines and the location of the display area, monitoring the offshore tern colony to see if they are disturbed and if so take action and future shows to take place outside the breeding season.

Ben McFarland, RSPB conservation manager, said: “While we’re pleased to hear that air show organisers are finally taking our concerns on board, we are still worried that any new flight lines of the aircraft will be too close to the birds’ nesting colonies and pose a significant risk of disturbance.”