A unique new 'hotel' has been unveiled in a coastal town - for around 430 pairs of seabirds.

Renewable developers Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables have just completed construction of a kittiwake ‘hotel’ with new nesting structures in the port of Lowestoft for black-legged kittiwakes.

And soon the first guests will be flocking to the region’s newest ‘hotel’ as part of offshore wind developers Vattenfall and ScottishPower Renewables’ environmental mitigation.

Now open for business in Lowestoft, they are the UK’s first kittiwake nesting structures to support consented offshore wind farms.

Lowestoft Journal: The kittiwake structure at Lowestoft. Picture: VattenfallThe kittiwake structure at Lowestoft. Picture: Vattenfall (Image: Vattenfall)

With the kittiwake birds being disrupted by windfarm activity, an artificial nesting structure is also set to be unveiled on the Great Yarmouth side of the River Yare overlooking Gorleston.

As global kittiwake population has been estimated to have fallen by around 40 per cent since the 1970s, the kittiwake hotels are vital to protect the species.

Lowestoft Journal: The kittiwake nesting structures in Lowestoft. Picture: VattenfallThe kittiwake nesting structures in Lowestoft. Picture: Vattenfall (Image: Vattenfall)

The nests will be able to accommodate around 430 pairs of kittiwakes and will help preserve the species for years to come.

It comes after a research programme was undertaken and an advisory group – which included representatives from Natural England, RSPB, East Suffolk Council and the Marine Management Organisation – was set up.

Based on this expert advice, the nesting structure has been designed in a way that replicates the best conditions for nesting.

Measures have also been taken to protect the nesting kittiwakes from predators – with predator-proof fencing at the bottom and an overhanging roof to protect against aerial predators.

With the artificial nests sited well away from the town and active port at the outer harbour to minimise interaction, construction would not have been possible without the support of Associated British Ports, Port of Lowestoft, and J Murphy & Sons who carried out the works.

Separate to the nesting requirement, Vattenfall is working closely in supporting the Lowestoft Kittiwake Partnership and has made a £50,000 a year funding commitment for five years.

Lowestoft Journal: Kittiwakes previously nesting in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesKittiwakes previously nesting in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes (Image: Mick Howes)

This will help the Partnership to engage with and provide advice and support for businesses and residents living alongside nesting kittiwakes, as well as money for cleaning up after kittiwakes, installing safe preventative measures to protect buildings, and creating alternative nesting sites.

Rob Anderson, project director of Vattenfall’s Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone, said: "We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to play our part in protecting seabirds and making sure that Vattenfall’s Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone supports local wildlife. 

"The funding for the Kittiwake Partnership will really help Lowestoft residents and businesses, who will be able to access support and advice on how to safely manage the impact of kittiwakes in the town."

Lowestoft Journal: Kittiwakes previously nesting in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesKittiwakes previously nesting in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes (Image: Mick Howes)

A Lowestoft Kittiwake Partnership spokesman said: "Vattenfall’s funding commitment will mean that we can pay for cleaning and other interventions to help people and businesses and enable kittiwakes to nest in more suitable locations, making life in Lowestoft better for the people who live there."

Ross Ovens, ScottishPower Renewables’ Managing Director for the East Anglia Hub, added: "I look forward to seeing the first guests coming to this unique ‘hotel’ and enjoying the great warm welcome this region is famous for."

Andrew Harston, director, Wales & Short Sea Ports, Associated British Ports said: "ABP is investing significantly in the Port of Lowestoft over the coming years to meet the offshore energy industry’s current and future needs and serving customers in the growing Southern North Sea energy sector.

"Providing a safe breeding ground for kittiwakes is one example of how our teams across ABP continuously strive to protect and promote biodiversity."