Paragliders criticised for disturbing nesting birds at Wells

PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:36 23 June 2014

Complaints have been made about parachutists disturbing the wildlife at Wells. Picture by harbour master Robert Smith

Complaints have been made about parachutists disturbing the wildlife at Wells. Picture by harbour master Robert Smith

Robert Smith

Low-flying paragliders have been criticised for the “irresponsible and unlawful” disturbance of rare birds nesting on the marshes at Wells.

Harbour master Robert Smith said he had noticed increasing numbers of the lightweight, free-flying aircraft, whose pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, similar to a parachute canopy.

But this weekend, he said one flew dangerously close to moored boats and frightened a number of birds away from their nests.

“What they are doing is irresponsible and dangerous, and it is unlawful to disturb nesting birds – particularly the terns,” he said.

“Yesterday (Saturday) we had one which was weaving in and out of the yachts on the quayside and virtually landed on one of the masts.

“It is a problem all along the coast and we need to identify these people in order to educate them.

“No-one wants to spoil their fun and I don’t want to be a killjoy, but we just want them to take more care.

“There are lots of fields and open spaces in Norfolk where they can do this, and they don’t need to do it over the marshes.”

Little terns are legally protected as a Schedule One breeding bird. Other birds which nest in the area include common terns, Arctic terns, oystercatchers and ringed plovers.

Paraglider flights can last for hours, prolonged by the use of thermals which can help a skilled pilot to regain height. They can be launched from high ground, or towed to the necessary height by an engine-driven winch.

Mr Smith said he had been unable to find out where the Wells paragliders had launched from.


  • I run a training establishment dedicated to providing training for Powered Paragliders AKA Paramotors in Norfolk and Lincolnshire and have done so since 2009. Our aim is to train pilots to fly safely, responsibly and within the law. Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement to go through such a training school as ours, or obtain any other form of Pilot Rating. It will often be these pilots, flying without any formal training that act irresponsibly and show up our sport in a bad light such as these low flying incidents. I know that some local airfields such as Northrepps Aerodrome and ourselves get contacted from time to time from people and the police asking if we know these individuals when these, and similar incidents occur, we are also getting fed up with these rouge pilots. I find that 99% of paramotor pilots do fly responsibly, however the 1% are going to spoil it for the rest of us so I hope these 1% are "educated" Note - These pilots should not be flying within 500 feet (distance) from persons, vehicles, vessels or structures as well as not disturbing protected wildlife (such areas are marked on air charts) High resolution pictures and video will help identify these rouge pilots that continue to show our sport in a bad light, and a complaint made to the CAA through their website with such evidence should help them identify and prosecute these few individuals. Mike Chilvers C.F.I. Ufly4fun Paramotor Club

    Report this comment

    Mike Chilvers

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • I need to correct a typo in my previous comment. I intended to say "it's wrong to link good Paramotor .... Etc. Not "like" thanks.

    Report this comment

    Lennie Pincher

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • This machine is a Paramotor and the pilot should know better. I want to make the point that the article talks about Paragliders scaring the bird and other silly behaviour. The non powered "Paragliders" are very unlikely to ever scare birds off there nests and are incapable of sustained low flight in open areas. Birds frequently "choose" to fly alongside those near silent gliders. It's totally wrong and unbalanced to link the two types and really quite wrong to like either good Paramotor pilots or any Paraglider pilots to this sort of behaviour. I fly both by the way.

    Report this comment

    Lennie Pincher

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • There was a para glider that took off from Wells beach on Saturday morning and returned in the early evening. We watched it take off and commented how it nearly bowled people over on take off!!!!!!!

    Report this comment

    Adam Potter

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • can I just point out the picture shows a powered paraglider not a thermal one the difference being that it uses a small motor to fly and can take off from virtually anywhere there is room to run and lift off.and also they make a lot more noise.

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Monday, June 23, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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