Power station fish help birds

A SUFFOLK power station has become the unlikely saviour for some of the country's most threatened birds during the big freeze.

Russell Claydon

A SUFFOLK power station has become 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 the staple diet of the rare booming bittern had threatened their existence even further.

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

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 a population of nationally important booming bitterns - male calling bitterns - of which there is only 51 left across the UK.

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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.