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RSPB ‘exceedingly worried’ by 2019 air show plans

PUBLISHED: 15:20 03 October 2018

The Red Arrows at the Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Red Arrows at the Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher

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The prospect of next year’s Great Yarmouth Air show being a series of one-off events could be just as disastrous for little terns, it is claimed.

RSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the region’s little terns. Picture: Kevin SimmondsRSPB staff and volunteers have been working hard to protect the wellbeing of the region’s little terns. Picture: Kevin Simmonds

The RSPB says the worst offenders were the Red Arrows which caused the greatest disturbance to nesting birds.

The two day air show was held on June 16 and 17 and was organised by the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area, (GYTABIA).

However the festival reportedly made a loss of £582,000 prompting a re-think over what form it could take in 2019.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said June should be avoided.

Little terns, one of the UK’s rarest seabirds, had a successful breeding season along the east Norfolk coast this year. Picture: Kevin Simmonds
Little terns, one of the UK’s rarest seabirds, had a successful breeding season along the east Norfolk coast this year. Picture: Kevin Simmonds

MORE: Little tern fears could ground air shows

In a statement the RSPB’s regional director for Eastern England, Jeff Knott, said it was “exceedingly worrying” that the event’s organisers were now reportedly considering a series of ‘one-off’ air show events ‘over the course of the summer’.

He said: “Little terns are one of the area’s most iconic birds and a source of local pride.

“East Norfolk is a stronghold for the species, supporting 20pc of the entire UK little tern population.

“Any future air show events during the summer will put these colonies of nesting little terns at further risk – particularly if they include displays by the Red Arrows.

“RSPB monitoring of the colony during the air show this year revealed that Red Arrow fly-pasts caused the greatest disturbance to nesting little terns. In addition, the parachute display and other activities held over 1km away were observed to have disturbed all the terns on Scroby Sands.

“Clearly our concerns about the potential for disturbance of nesting little terns by air show events were justified.

“It is impossible to predict how little terns would respond to future air show events, but if these were to coincide with other disturbances such as high tides, prey shortages, or bad weather, the effect could be disastrous.

“The RSPB fully appreciates the importance of one-off tourism events in attracting visitors to the town and we are not against air show events – if they take place outside the little terns’ breeding season.

“If the air show events were held in September after the birds have migrated to Africa for the winter, then the matter would be resolved.”

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