How town's new lifeboat station will also help protect wildlife

Little tern and chick will benefit from the re-planted grass at the new Wells lifeboat station.

Little tern and chick will benefit from the re-planted grass at the new Wells lifeboat station. - Credit: RSPB

Not only will a new Norfolk lifeboat station guard our coast, it will also help protect wildlife.

Wells' new lifeboat station at the end of Beach Road will be a modern upgrade to current facilities and a brand new £2.5m all-weather lifeboat for Wells, when the station opens in late 2022. Now thanks to a new conservation project it will also help little terns.

The project is a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The RSPB led a conservation effort to protect little terns at five beaches in Norfolk and north Suffolk.

RNLI and RSPB staff in Wells-next-the-Sea

Paul Davis, RSPB North Suffolk Little Tern Project Officer; Chris Hardy, Wells RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager; Alice Skehel, RSPB Little Tern Project Manager; Nicky King, Wells RNLI Coxswain/Mechanic. - Credit: RNLI

This autumn, the project required the removal of marram grass which was encroaching on the terns’ nesting site at Eccles. The grass hasn’t gone to waste - instead, it’s been replanted as part of the design at the lifeboat station taking shape along the coast.

The birds nest on the ground on sandy and shingle beaches to camouflage their eggs.

Alice Skehel, RSPB Little Tern Project Manager, said: “We moved some of the grass back onto the dunes behind the colony area but had some leftover. We were aware of the RNLI’s building project at Wells and felt it was a sustainable solution that benefits both lifeboats and little terns for years to come.’

The new Wells lifeboat station, currently under construction at the end of Beach Road.

The new Wells lifeboat station, currently under construction at the end of Beach Road, will provide modern facilities including crew and training rooms. - Credit: RNLI/Mark Frary

The RSPB is carrying out vegetation management at Eccles on Sea to re-establish suitable nesting habitat for the little tern colony, which are one of the UK’s rarest breeding seabirds. They have made this remote beach their home over the last two decades.

Most Read

The work here will restore the open beach aspect preferred by little terns in a small area, leaving a few small clumps to allow the chicks to use as hiding places.

Chris Hardy, lifeboat operations manager at Wells RNLI, said: “We were planning to plant marram grass in keeping with the local area, with our contractor procuring this from a supplier.

“The RSPB asked us if, rather than disposing of their grass, we would like it for our construction. This helped them reduce waste and saved our charity money, whilst also sourcing local plants.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter