Nuclear bosses help feed bitterns

A NUCLEAR power station became the unlikely saviour for some of the country's most threatened birds during the big freeze.

Russell Claydon

A NUCLEAR power station became the unlikely saviour for some of the country's most threatened birds during the big freeze.

With ponds and lakes iced over during the recent cold snap fish, the staple diet of the rare bittern, were proving difficult to catch threatening the birds very existence.

But a helping hand from Sizewell B, which has provided fish from the station's cooling water process to wildlife workers, has ensured they have not gone hungry.


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Other fish-eating birds, such as water rails, have also benefited from an emergency feeding station set up by Suffolk Wildlife Trust at the Hen Reedbeds, near Southwold.

The habitat is used by an important population of the nationally rare bittern, of which there were only 51 males left in the UK last year.

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Alan Miller, from Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The severe frost was life-threatening for the fish-eating birds who found their usual feeding grounds in places such as the Hen Reedbeds, near Southwold, frozen solid.

“Thanks to the swift response from staff at Sizewell B we have been able to help local birds survive some of the coldest temperatures we have seen in the county in years.”

Steve Friend, an environmental compliance coordinator for Sizewell B, said: “It was great to once again work with Suffolk Wildlife Trust and help them protect the nationally important local population of bitterns. Sizewell B has seized the opportunity to work in partnership with the trust to enhance local biodiversity.”

The cooling process at Sizewell B works by sea water being drawn through a concrete tunnel offshore at a rate of 3.1 million litres per minute. The water is then filtered to remove any fish which are returned to sea. The water is used to cool the turbines at the power station before being returned to the North Sea after the cooling work is complete.

The fish were gathered for the Wildlife Trust, in the exceptional circumstances, following consent from the Environment Agency.

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