The shiny exterior of a new police headquarters in Dorset could pose a ‘deadly threat’ to the local bird population.
Concerns have been raised by Wool Parish Council over the potential for bird mortality due to the reflective surface of the proposed building in Winfrith, the Dorset Echo reported.
The local authority said drawings of curtain walls on the building, which would provide a new headquarters for Dorset Police, show the reflection of sky, clouds and trees, raising fears birds may be killed while inadvertently flying there.
In a letter to Dorset council, the local authority said: ‘It is well documented that reflective surfaces on buildings cause tens of thousands of bird deaths as birds attempt to fly across the surface in the landscape they see in the reflection.”
The council said colonies of house swifts and swifts living in the area, two migratory species red-listed to be endangered, could be particularly at risk.
He continued: “Birds at these breeding colonies use the space above the water meadows of Frome and other insect-rich areas such as pastures and wet brush adjacent to police HQ.
“Both species of birds would be vulnerable to lethal impact on reflective surfaces. It would appear that the vertical faces of this proposed building would have reflective surfaces and, without mitigation, would pose a significant lethal threat to these birds.
The plans, which feature bronze aluminum windows and exterior walls, are being assessed by Dorset Council.
Although data on birds injured or killed while flying over reflective surfaces in the UK is sparse, several studies have been conducted on the issue in the US.
A peer-reviewed study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, found that birds flying into buildings were “the single greatest source of bird strike mortality in North America.”
Tom Hibbert, ornithologist and content creator at Wildlife Trusts, said: “For too long the UK has built infrastructure at the expense of the natural world. It is high time to favor nature.
“This means ensuring that all new developments benefit nature, providing habitats and avoiding designs that endanger wildlife.
“Glossy buildings and the reflections they create can be problematic for birds. There are things you can do to mitigate the risk, such as using patterned glass and turning off lights at night.