Nesting duck halts Wish Tower cafe demolition work

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A BROODY duck got council officers in a flap by halting demolition at the Wish Tower Restaurant.

A site assessment had to be carried out by environmentalists to see if demolition work could go ahead while the mallard, a protected species, was nesting close to the ornamental pond.

The duck eggs hatched at the weekend and the mallard and her babies were transferred to a secret and safe location.

In the meantime workmen have begun clearing the inside of the disused cafe and demolition work has started on the seaward side.

A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough council, which is behind the demolition and re-development of the site, said the mallard was discovered at the end of last month nesting on a ledge in the ornamental pond, which has been boarded up.

Mallards and their nests are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird, or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young.

Ecologists said the ducklings were at risk once they hatched as they would not be able to leave the pond and could drown.

Councillor Troy Tester at Eastbourne Borough Council said, “As soon as the mallard was discovered we consulted an independent ecology expert who advised us that demolition work could continue at the Wish Tower café without risk to the birds.

“The expert advised that the ducks should be relocated as soon as the eggs had hatched, for their own safety and well-being, and this has now taken place.

“Our schedule to demolish the café and plan for an exciting replacement has not been affected.

“The interior of the former café has been stripped out and the exterior demolition process is under way.”

The council’s ecologist consultant said, “Due to the low water level and steep sides of the pond where the duck had made its nest, we had concerns for the ducklings once hatched and felt the ducklings would not have been able to get out of the pond, potentially causing them to drown.

“Our recommendation was therefore to move the mother and the chicks as soon as the eggs had hatched to a safer environment using an animal rescue worker who had experience in handling ducks.”

Trevor Weeks from the Wildlife Rescue Ambulance Service and his team of volunteers helped move the ducklings and their mother.

“On welfare grounds the ducklings could not stay in the water,” said Trevor, “so mum and all the babies were caught and relocated to a safe site where they were all released together where they would not come to any harm.”