Family finds new home thanks to Lafarge.

Lafarge rehomes ASBO swan

Published:  17 August, 2010

SUFFOLK: A swan which repeatedly attacked canoeists and walkers along the River Chelmer has been evicted to a Lafarge quarry site.

The aggressive cob, his mate and six cygnets were captured and driven an hour away to a lake at the isolated Gallows Hill quarry in Suffolk.

His departure is a huge relief to locals in Chelmsford, especially members of the town's canoe club who had begun to suffer almost daily attacks.

Deborah Wilkes, secretary at the club said: "I had a lightbulb moment. I remembered going to a Lafarge open day locally and thinking what a nice company it was and that if it could help it would. I also knew it had large holes in the ground filled with water in isolated areas which is just what the swans needed."

Stuart Anderson, Lafarge's senior planning and estates manager was soon involved. "The idea was to release them at our park at Whitlingham Country Park in Norwich but when the rangers there realised the cob had an ASBO it was clear this wasn't going to be a good idea as Whitlingham is popular with water sports enthusiasts and has many visitors.

"Then, we looked at Roxwell Quarry, but it was decided this was too close to Chelmsford and the birds might just take off and return to the River Chelmer. Eventually, we came up with Gallows Hill, which is some distance away."

With the final destination arranged 'Operation Swan' swung into action. Directed by a swan specialist from Natural England, a team of six canoeists created a barrier across the river while four others gently guided the bird family towards the bank.

Once on land the cob, hissing and flapping, was hooked around the neck, its legs tied and safely stowed into a special carry bag. His mate, the pen, was also quickly secured but the panicked cygnets scarpered in all directions and needed rounding up before being stowed.

With all the birds secured they were loaded into a van ready for the 60-minute drive from Chelmsford to Gallows Hill.

Mr Anderson said: "The eight swans were last seen gliding serenely around their new surroundings none the worse for their experience."

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