The new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth is officially opened next week. This weekend tens of thousands of people will be admiring the spectacular new bridge which joins the existing Forth road and rail bridges connecting Edinburgh and Fife. As Niall Corbet explains the bridge sits in an area with ample opportunities for nature spotting.
The bridge is a marvel of world class construction and design.
What you won’t see is the fact that the bridge was designed to meet the highest environmental standards, with great care being exercised from the initial selection of its siting to all elements of construction.
SNH is proud to have been involved as advisors through the journey, working closely with contractors.
The waters below the bridge are important for migratory salmon and lamprey. As part of construction noise levels underwater were monitored and carefully managed to avoid disrupting fish migration.
Walking across the bridge this weekend, you won’t see salmon or lamprey in the depths but look up and if you are lucky you might still see common terns wheeling acrobatically in the air; graceful as only terns can be.
These seabirds are breeding visitors and one of the species that make the Forth Estuary, in which the three bridges sit, something of a wildlife hotspot – an internationally important area for birds and marine life. At this time of year many species of waders such as curlew and dunlin will be returning to the Forth’s rich feeding grounds to spend the winter – look out for them on the mudflats and rocky shores around the estuary.
Between the Forth Road Bridge and Rosyth docks nestles St Margaret’s Marsh SSSI (Triple SI’s are Sites of Special Scientific Interest), a small reedbed and saltmarsh. It’s a precious jewel set in a modern landscape, and shows how, with care, nature and industry can sit side by side – if you are very lucky you might spot a marsh harrier visiting for the winter.
In constructing the new bridge a small part of the reedbed was affected but rather than this being to nature’s detriment, the opportunity was taken to improve the seawall sluices on the site, allowing the seawater to reach the marsh more easily and so improving habitat quality and diversity.
Enjoy your day on the bridge, and look out for nature!
Pictures by Niall Corbet