A BIRD nest which halted the multi-million-pound A35 Holmsley bridge project for a month has been removed, despite government legislation, meaning work can now finish.
Hampshire County Council’s £5.5 million rail bridge replacement works on the A35 at Holmsley, in the New Forest, are expected to be fully finished by Friday, July 8, and the C10 Station Road under the bridge reopened after lengthy delays caused by nesting chicks.
As reported, the key road was due to reopen in mid-April but was delayed due to the presence of the newly hatched chicks nesting beneath a bridge support. A second clutch of eggs were then reported, further delaying works.
Provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 required the nest to remain undisturbed until the chicks left.
The act states that all birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law and it is thus an offence to “intentionally disturb any wild bird while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young.”
The council said contractors removed the birds’ nest on June 23 following advice from an ecologist. Subsequently, a temporary platform on the bridge was finally removed and other outstanding work on the west side of the bridge was completed later that week.
Councillor Edward Heron, lead member for transport and environment strategy, said: “It has been a highly complex project to replace this 114-year-old rail bridge and I extend my thanks to our engineering team and our contractors Knights Brown for this scheme before the start of the busy tourist season.
“The new single span concrete bridge will minimise future maintenance costs and a 380-metre section of the A35 carriageway has been realigned and resurfaced with improved surface water drainage. This will ensure safer travel on this key route through the New Forest.”
To avoid unnecessary closures of the junction of the A35 and the C10 Station Road in the future, additional lengths of the C10 will be resurfaced this. The C10 Station Road closure will continue for the duration of this additional work.
A council spokesperson added: “This will also mean diverting traffic coming from Christchurch to Burley via Lyndhurst and diverting traffic going from Burley to either Brockenhurst or Lyndhurst down south as per when we had the A35 closed.”
There will also be an upcoming lane closure on the A35 during off peak times to allow removal from the road signs linked references to the previous ‘weak bridge’. This work will last one day and the date will be released once confirmed with contractors.
The Echo has further approached Hampshire County Council to comment on why the bird nest was removed and whether it was done within the provisions of the act.