Bristol Int'l Airport in Fight Over Birdland

A Battle for the skies around Bristol was looming last night as airport bosses claimed a new West haven for wetland birds would threaten planes.

A VERDICT on the project is set to be made next week when members of the council's north area committee decide whether or not to grant planning permission.

Officers are recommending that the haven is allowed to be built, if the potential hazards to the airport and some concerns from the Environment Agency about flooding can be overcome.

The airport announced lastmonth how it plans to double the size of its terminal.

The risks are greatest at take-off Despite their relative sizes, birds can be a serious problem for airliners that collide with them in mid-air.

Most serious is when larger species are sucked into jet engines, potentially causing catastrophic failure and accidents.

Earlier this year, a Boeing 737 bound for Bristol Airport suffered a major scare when it ran into a flock of 21,000 racing pigeons. Many of the birds were sucked into the plane's twin engines, causing one to fail completely and forcing the plane to return to Dublin airport for an emergency landing.

The accident happened at 600ft just seconds after the plane took off.

Risks of bird strike are highest when planes are taking off or landing, because at cruising altitudes there are no birds to hit. It was the third incident of its kind in two years in Ireland, and such problems are far from unknown in the UK.

Many airports, commercial and military, take steps to reduce the risk of bird strike.

At RNAS Yeovilton, near Yeovil, a peregrine falcon called Meare has been keeping flocks away for six years, and even earned his own long-service medal.

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