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Royal visit marks UK launch of bird-friendly glass

A royal visit to Lindisfarne has marked the launch of a unique glass in the UK which is designed to save birds’ lives.

Millions of birds die each year by striking glazing in buildings. The new glass innovation takes its inspiration from the Orb Weaver spider, whose webs reflect UV light to stop birds flying through them, the glass does the same thing, it’s not visible to the human eye but visible to our feathered friends.

The new glass called Ornilux from glazing specialist Glas Wagener, has seen its first use in the UK in a lookout tower in Lindisfarne, opened by the Prince of Wales and has also been installed in the visitors centre on Holy Island, at Lindisfarne.

Ornilux is part of a new movement called bio-mimicry where science and art emulates nature’s best biological ideas to solve human problems.

Birds unlike humans have the ability to see light in the ultra-violet spectrum and in nature Orb Weaver spiders incorporate UV reflective strands of silk in their webs, so birds will not fly through and destroy them. Like the Orb Weaver web this new glazing has a web of lines coated onto the glass which are barely discernible to humans but reflect the UV light, alerting birds to the presence of glass.

Dave Wyatt, head of the Arnold Group’s UK operations, said: “The project at Lindisfarne is our first use of the bird saving or Ornilux glass in the UK. It’s a system which has been in development for years and through extensive testing we have seen the glazing significantly reduce bird strikes.

“Ornilux has already seen considerable success in the US, being used in a number of high profile buildings and winning a number of international awards. We are now keen to see the UK adopt a similarly progressive approach to protect bird populations.”

Euan Millar, director of Icosis, the architects behind the Lindisfarne project, said: “Considering the native bird populations on Holy Island, we were really keen to ensure that the buildings would be great for visitors, but also have minimum impact on the natural environment. With so much glass in the tower we were concerned with birds striking the glazing in particular. The Ornilux product should help to protect the birds and ensure the native wildlife is unaffected by the new visitor facility.”

Natalie Kopp from Arnold Glas said: “Birds do not see glass and as a result we’re seeing billions of bird deaths each year, with glazed buildings being a major contributor to overall decline in bird populations. It’s estimated that in just one day in Europe 250,000 birds die from collisions with glass, so we are keen to see developers and architects start looking at ways of being more bird friendly with their buildings.”

The work at the Lookout Tower has been managed by The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust (HILCDT) with funding through a Natural England Environmental Stewardship agreement.

Dick Patterson, an Island resident and now chair of HILCDT said: “The tower offers a great opportunity to open the eyes of visitors to the wonderful natural environment here. We’re grateful to Natural England for their support in funding this work and delighted to be working alongside them to highlight their role as managers and custodians of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.”

Manufacturers of Ornilux, The Arnold Group, are based in Germany and employ more than 1,200 staff across over six facilities with a turnover of approximately 150m euros. The firm is a specialist in several glazing ranges including bird protection glass, vacuum heat insulation glass, solar control glass and structural glass facades.

Dick Patterson and Prince Charles.jpg (2MB)

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