New partnership to help safeguard endangered kittiwakes in coastal town

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

A new initiative has been unveiled in a coastal town to safeguard an endangered kittiwake colony.

With Lowestoft's kittiwake colony being one of the few urban colonies in the UK, a new collaborative cross-sector partnership has launched.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

The recently formed Lowestoft Kittiwake Partnership (LKP) - which consists of Lowestoft Vision, East Suffolk Council, Lowestoft Town Council, Associated British Ports, RSPB, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, BT, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and independent ornithologists - has now been boosted by funding for a new engagement officer.

Almost a year after kittiwakes had become entangled in controversial netting placed around businesses in the town, the LKP's vision is: "Lowestoft is a town where people are proud to live and work alongside kittiwakes, which are welcomed and thrive in safe nesting sites in locations that cause minimal conflict with businesses and residents."

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

Last Thursday, Lowestoft Town Council's finance and governance committee met at Hamilton House, with a grant application request from Lowestoft Vision for £10,000 to part fund the new engagement officer unanimously approved. 

A town council spokesman said: "Lowestoft Town Council is pleased to be working with partners on the Kittiwake Partnership and councillor Andy Pearce has been appointed to represent the town council at partnership meetings.

"The aims of the partnership are to recognise that kittiwakes are an asset to be valued and to work with residents, businesses and other groups who have been challenged by these birds on their buildings to enable them to co-exist."

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With climate emergency and overfishing affecting the decline of the birds, councillors voted in favour of approving the funding bid, which will come from the town council’s climate and ecological committee’s budget.

Cllr Andy Pearce

Cllr Andy Pearce. - Credit: Mick Howes

Andy Pearce, chairman of the finance and governance committee, said: "The grant agreed by the town council will pay 50 per cent of the year one salary for an officer to work on behalf of, and advice, the partnership”.

In supporting the funding, councillor Sonia Barker said: "This shows that the town council is taking both civic pride and the protection of these birds seriously."

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

With similar part funding of £10,000 agreed for the new engagement officer by East Suffolk Council, a council spokesman said: “There have been kittiwakes in Lowestoft and elsewhere on the East Suffolk coast for many years however more recently issues have arisen from an increase in kittiwakes and gulls nesting on buildings in the town centre.

“There are concerns that large offshore wind developments may impact on kittiwake populations and as part of pre-development conditions, alternative nesting and breeding sites must be found.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The coast between Lowestoft and Sizewell has been identified as a suitable area where kittiwakes could be supported successfully however it is important that sustainable nesting locations are found which do not cause problems for people living and working nearby.

“The Kittiwake Partnership has been formed to enable a co-ordinated approach towards resolving the issue and has a broad membership to ensure all relevant interests are addressed.”

Danny Steel.

Danny Steel. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Danny Steel, chairman of Lowestoft Vision - the Business Improvement District for the town which is managed by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce - said: “For a number of years Lowestoft Vision has dealt with a wide range of issues due to the kittiwakes and other gulls that have impacted businesses in our town centre, and so we are very pleased to be supporting this partnership.

"Lowestoft is a coastal town and so the presence of kittiwakes and other gulls are to be expected, but it is important that businesses and residents can access support on any concerns they may have.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft.

Kittiwakes nesting on buildings in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"Having an officer in place as a first point of contact who will have expertise to lead on this, with support from us, will be advantageous to anyone who needs help and advice.

“Lowestoft Vision is looking forward to hosting the officer once they are in place, and they will be funded in part by Lowestoft Town Council and in part by East Suffolk Council.”