A HOUSING association has moved to reassure residents that wildlife is not in danger during the demolition of a Barry church.

Hafod is continuing to transform the St Paul’s Church site, in St Paul’s Avenue, into 27 flats.

But Barry resident Tracey Abery voiced concerns about birds nesting in the building.

She said: "Since June I’ve watched the church’s demise – being reduced to an empty shell.

“I also noticed an abundance of birds that have made the empty building their home with surrounding vegetation a perfect habitat to raise their young.

"Having concerns with demolition work during the nesting season I made enquiries on site.

"I emailed the manager.

"I spoke to their ecologist who was sympathetic to my concerns.

"He also informed the site manager as they agreed the frontage to be a bustling area with house sparrows flying under the eaves tending to the chicks in their nest.”

The RSPB has red-listed sparrows as a species of high conservation concern.

Numbers, in towns and cities, have declined by 60 per cent since 1970.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 states: “It is an offence to kill, injure, or take any wild bird or damage or destroy the nest while in use or being built.”

“The frustration is how this law is so often flouted to get the job done,” Ms Abery said.

“A single nest could represent tens of thousands of pounds in lost revenues.

“I do feel this operation could have been better managed to have not coincided with the nesting season thereby reducing harm or distress to any wild birds.”

Vale Buttrills ward councillor Ian Johnson, who voted against the demolition of the church and its replacement with 27 flats, said: "The construction company know their responsibilities and the development should be stopped if they are breaking the law and their construction management plan.

“I raised the protection of nesting birds with Vale council officers when the construction management plan was being drafted, and I know that local residents did the same.

“The plan sets out how the construction company should behave, including times of work, health and safety, and, in this case, a specific section about the treatment of nesting birds and their responsibilities under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

“I have reported these concerns to the Vale council planning department and asked them to carry out an urgent investigation, given how quickly they would have to intervene to protect any nesting birds.”

A Vale council spokesman said: “Following a complaint to the council, the planning enforcement team is investigating this matter to establish whether a breach of planning permission has taken place.

“They will then determine what, if any, action needs to be taken to remedy the situation.”

A Hafod spokeswoman said: “We would like to reassure local residents that we are aware of nesting birds at the surrounding perimeter of the site and are working closely with our contractor to ensure that all planning and wildlife regulations are complied with.

“The welfare of all wildlife is important to us and we are following the recommendations of an appointed ecologist who is carrying out regular site inspections at all stages of the demolition and clearance works.”