TWENTY fake owls are being installed on Jubilee Bridge to stop pigeons nesting as the next phase of a multi-million pound project gets under way.

Specialist contractors will be abseiling from the bridge, starting next week, to inspect the underside of the Victorian structure.

They will assess the condition of bridge girders and trusses as part of preparations for the next phase of the essential £4.5m Cumbria County Council scheme.

Inspectors will be installing approximately 20 ‘dummy’ owls to help minimise disruption to both the contractor and the birds themselves when scaffolding is erected from April 2019 onwards.

The county council believes these dummy birds will provide the most effective way of preventing birds nesting. Alternative methods were ruled out as not being practical, said a council spokesman.

For example, netting on the bridge would be costly and unlikely to withstand severe winds.

Deploying a falconer is not permitted due to environmental designations protecting rare birds in the Channel

Traffic will flow as normal during this period and no disruption for bridge users is expected while the inspection takes place over the next two weeks.

Specialist ropes access contractors will be abseiling from the footway and climbing up from boats to get within touching distance of every piece of the historic structure for a detailed inspection. Their findings will give engineers time to prepare designs of any repairs required to the structure.