CONCERNS about possible skylark chicks have resulted in a half million pound Portland mine project being delayed until after the nesting season.

Albion Stone have said that they will be delaying the start of a project at its Stonehills cite until after the birds’ nesting season after an ecological appraisal identified that the site could support the supported population.

On June 3, the company said that Avalanche Road was thoroughly checked for the ground nesting birds and ecologists concluded that even though the survey was conducted within typical bird nesting season, no active nests were found.

A spokesman for the firm said that due to the potential high levels of breeding activity which usually take place between April and August, Albion Stone have made the precautionary decision to delay the opening of our Stonehills Mine.

The company has appointed Woodmace Ltd civil engineering to complete the first phase of the half a million pound operation to open the mine. The operations were planned to commence with the top soil stripping in conjunction with the archaeological programme of works on Monday. (8) Michael Poultney, Albion Stone’s Managing Director said: “Whilst it is difficult to suspend such an enormous, well planned operation, we recognise that Skylarks although not rare, have been declining in numbers and the breeding of such bird species needs to be protected.

“Since we took control of the surface nearly 10 years ago, we have worked with Natural England, Dorset county Council and ecology teams and the RSPB to enhance biodiversity and the habitat for farmland birds in particular. “The management plan has clearly been successful and we are oddly now a victim of that success.”

Joshua Eiles-Clarke of Woodmace Ltd Operations Department said: “We have carefully planned the operations and were commencing with the final public consultation when the news came through that there was a concern about potential nesting Skylarks on the site.

“Therefore, we are now looking to delay the start date until after the nesting season and will ensure that a suitably trained ecologist gives the site the all clear and we receive confirmation from the planners before the operation commences.”