Expanded metal protects major tern colony

Expanded metal protects major tern colony

Our expanded metal is now playing a key part in safeguarding wildlife in Wales.

We supplied our N6654F expanded metal mesh, typically used for filtration applications, to Tata Steel to help the company create a safe nesting site for the common tern at its site in Shotton, North Wales.

The Tata Steel Nature Reserve is home to one of the UK’s biggest common tern colonies and our expanded metal has been used to create mesh barriers on a series of nesting islands, to prevent rats from getting to the terns’ eggs.

Tata Steel is the UK’s biggest steelmaker and the former British Steel company created the first safe nesting area for the common terns of the Dee Estuary in 1970. It constructed a small raft on the cooling lagoons for the blast furnaces.

The initiative was an immediate success: 12 pairs nested and 17 chicks fledged. Since then, more than 20,000 common tern chicks have hatched and flown from this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In February 2021, the Tata Steel Nature Reserve received a delivery of 130 tonnes of shingle by helicopter funded by Welsh Government, in order to safeguard the colony for years to come. Tata Steel apprentices have helped to clear the nesting islands, while the company has also donated steel which has been processed and used as a base for the stone.

Common terns are long-lived birds, often surviving for more than 20 years. With their normal wintering grounds on the West coast of Africa it means they can fly more than 250,000km in a lifetime, the equivalent of six times round the earth.

Bill Duckworth, Tata Steel Shotton site manager, said: “These delicate little seabirds are a delight to watch and I know everyone on the site is very proud that they choose to come back to us every year.

“We were glad to be able to work with Natural Resources Wales and the Merseyside Ringing Group to help give the nesting islands a new lease of life and provide a safe home for the next 20 years.”

Philip Astley, managing director of The Expanded Metal Company, commented: “We’re delighted to have supported Tata Steel in protecting the nesting sites.

“The work Tata Steel and the Welsh Government have done in safeguarding the colony is extraordinary and it’s been exciting for The Expanded Metal Company to have played a part in this project.”