The dismantling of the east Reading gas tower has been delayed after concerns were raised by residents over the impact on birds in the area.

Gas Holder No.4, on Alexander Turner Close, is being removed as part of a development to build Reading Borough Council (RBC) 130 flats.

Dan Brown, a spokesperson for gas distribution company SGN, which owns the site, said: “We’ve postponed planned work to dismantle our gas holder structure at our Reading site following a survey conducted by an ecologist last week.

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“We’ll continue to closely monitor the site and liaise with the ecologist on revised plans to dismantle our redundant gas holder at a later date.”

The gas tower had been due for dismantling on March 15 but the demolition works have now been delayed after concerns were raised by residents after peregrine falcons were spotted on the gas holder by photographer and artist Leslee Barron.

Ms Barron said she has been looking out for the peregrine falcons, as they return to Gas Tower No.4 every year to breed, and spotted them for the first time on Feb 27.

She said “Since that day I’ve been going down to the tower to monitor their activity, taking photos daily.

“As you can see from my photos the breeding pair are there and very active.”

Peregrine falcon at the gas tower. By photograper Leslee Barron

Peregrine falcon at the gas tower. By photograper Leslee Barron

Ms Barron said Danescroft, the developer, originally promised it would not commence any dismantling of the tower after the end of February because of the breeding season. This date changed to March 8 for prep work and 15 to start dismantling the tower.

She added: “My worry is that dismantling work will commence as the falcons prepare to lay eggs. Once they do lay eggs they are protected by law under the Wildlife and Counrtyside Act, 1981 as protected birds.

“I’m just looking out for the birds because they can’t do it themselves and if we hadn’t intervened work would have started and the birds would’ve been frightened off.”

You can read more about falcons at the tower here.

The council said its diversity consultant has reviewed the situation and does not think the peregrine falcons are nesting at this current time.

But the council has raised concerns with the developer and advised they cease work to allow an ecologist to fully assess the situation.

A RBC spokesman said: “If active nests are recorded, work will proceed only once all young have fledged the nest and it is no longer in use.”

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And the council said a temporary peregrine will be erected for the demolition works, whilst the planning application for the flats includes “a number of measures to enhance and protect local biodiversity, including providing a permanent peregrine platform, bird and bat boxes and native and wildlife friendly landscaping”.