Fears for Welsh Hawking Centre over roadworks near Barry

Welsh Hawking Centre boss Jamie Munro with Buzz the European Eagle Owl
Image caption Welsh Hawking Centre boss Jamie Munro with Buzz the European Eagle Owl

A falconry business fears it may be forced to close after visitor numbers halved in a year - and it says roadworks are to blame.

The Welsh Hawking Centre has been on Barry's Five Mile Lane - the A4226 - for the last 40 years.

Vale of Glamorgan council said the works on the road will improve journeys and offer better access to Cardiff Airport and St Athan Enterprise Zone.

But Jamie Munro, who runs the centre, said it had impacted on his business.

Visitors to the centre can see daily displays of birds of prey, including falcons and owls.

"Footfall through the gate is down 50%. I've just completed our lunchtime flying show which would usually have an audience of 60 to 70 people during the school holidays, but there wasn't even double figures watching it today," Mr Munro said.

"The roadworks are deterring people."

The centre's main income comes from breeding birds for the Middle East. About 200 birds a year are hatched.

Mr Munro said: "Last year we achieved around £150,000 in sales, we have been growing 50 to 100% year on year, so we had forecast sales to be in region of £250,000 this year."

But he said he expected the business to be down £50,000 to £75,000.

"It has been impacted by the noise and disturbance of heavy machinery and tree felling and eggs are down between 40 and 50%," he added.

Image caption Mr Munro puts a bird through its paces at the centre

The peregrine falcon - the fastest animal in the world - is prized for its hunting abilities.

"The UK has produced a phenomenal reputation for producing top quality falcons that are exported worldwide, particularly to the Middle East," Mr Munro said.

"It's a multi-million pound industry now for the UK."

He added that he was "very stressed and worried" about the situation.

Vale of Glamorgan council's neighbourhood services and transport manager, Mike Clogg, said the council's contractor had maintained regular contact with affected businesses.

He said eight visits had been made to the hawking centre since 1 April.

"The contractor has managed works in the vicinity of the hawking centre to reduce noise and disturbance at all times and the contractor's liaison officer will continue to work with the hawking centre to assist with specific concerns for the remainder of the contract," he added.

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