Boost to threatened bird species across county as recovery project gets £77,000 grant

The funding will be used to buy and install 364 swift nesting boxes

A swift in flight

A two-year project to support swift populations throughout Leicestershire and help them to recover has been awarded a £77,000 grant from Natural England.

Leicestershire County Council’s Swift Action for Swifts project has been chosen as one of 63 projects across England to receive a share of £14.5 million, aimed at helping 150 rare and threatened species on the road to recovery.

Leicestershire County Council is a member of the Leicestershire and Rutland Swift Partnership, alongside Leicester City Council, Charnwood Borough Council, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society and the National Forest Company.

Swift numbers are in severe decline across the UK, down by 53% percent between 1995 and 2016, due to loss of breeding sites and the reduced numbers of flying insects caused by the use of insecticides, pesticides and climate change.

The Swift Action for Swifts project aims to reverse the decline in the numbers of the migratory birds by helping householders across the county to provide nesting sites, by the installation of specially-built swift boxes and ‘callers’ to encourage the birds to locate the boxes and make their homes in them.

The £77,000 funding from Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme Grant Scheme will be used to buy and install 364 swift nesting boxes in locations where swifts have been recorded, but where their habitats are threatened by the installation of carbon efficiency measures in homes, as the works can block off access to nesting sites, which swifts regularly return to year after year.

Earlier this year, Green Living Leicestershire, of which the county council is a member, was awarded £6.8 million by the government to support the installation of energy efficiency improvements through the Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) scheme, which will be installed in around 350 homes.

The Swift Action for Swifts project will work in tandem with the HUG team to identify suitable properties qualifying for works under the HUG scheme, engage with interested residents and offer swift boxes and callers to provide new and improved nesting sites.

The county council’s environment team will also work with Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, which has an ambition to decarbonise its own social housing across the borough. The funding for the current scheme is allocated through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

Homeowners will also be provided with advice and information on the plight of swifts and how people can protect them and help to increase their numbers.

The Home Upgrade Grant Scheme is vital as it will not only help residents with the cost of living by reducing their fuel bills, but will also help us towards our target of Leicestershire becoming a net zero county by 2045 by cutting carbon emissions.

But this cannot come at the expense of nature or cause the loss of habitat for a threatened species, so I am delighted that the £77,000 funding from Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme Grant Scheme will allow us to work alongside the installation of these energy efficient measures to create new swift nesting sites to protect these beautiful birds.

The Home Upgrade Grant is delivered through Green Living Leicestershire, a partnership between Leicestershire authorities who work collectively to deliver projects supporting sustainability and net zero across the county.

For more information on the Home Upgrade Grants, including the full eligibility criteria, eligible postcode areas or to apply, visit the Home Upgrade Grant webpage, or call YES Energy Solutions on 03309 126 199.

The Home Upgrade Grant is delivered through Green Living Leicestershire, a partnership between Leicestershire authorities who work collectively to deliver projects supporting sustainability and net zero across the county.

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