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Call to save curlews from Yorkshire Energy Park development

Monday 25th September 2017

Curlew. Credit Nick GoodrumCurlew. Credit Nick Goodrum

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has issued a formal objection to East Riding of Yorkshire Council with regards the proposed development of a £200m business energy park near Hedon, within the Holderness area of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Read Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's formal objection in full

Central to the Trust's concerns is evidence that the site has been found to support peak counts of more than 220 curlew, which represents over 8% of the latest curlew numbers for the Humber Estuary.

Sadly, the famously evocative and once familiar call of the curlew is becoming increasingly rare. Studies reveal that habitat loss due to development, pollution and climate change are key reasons for curlew declines globally. The curlew was added to the UK red list in in December 2015, and it is argued to be one of the highest bird conservation priority within the UK.

The site proposed for development is a former aerodrome field on the outskirts of Hedon. Outline plans for the so-named Yorkshire Energy Park include a data centre, education campus and energy generating facilities. The project is a joint venture between Sewell, Eco Parks Developments Ltd and renewable energy company Chiltern.

Surveys reveal the site is an important foraging area for Humber Estuary curlew and its loss is likely to have a significant negative impact on the curlew population associated with the Estuary.

Whilst the Humber Estuary is strictly protected by the EU Habitats Directive and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation, many of the bird populations for which the Estuary is designated, including curlew, rely on land outside of the protected boundary.

Lauren Garside, Conservation Planning Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, explains: "The proposed development land at Hedon is functionally linked to the Humber Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA) because of its importance in supporting the threatened curlew. It should therefore be offered the same protection as land within the SPA. For this very reason The Trust is of the opinion that the planning application at the very least undergoes an assessment under the Habitats Regulations."

Ecological compensation measures offered by the developers also fall short of safeguarding the curlews and other wildlife on the site.

Ms Garside continues: "Curlew currently utilise 88 hectares of the site, whilst the proposed mitigation consists of setting aside 46 hectares for the species, a significant loss of habitat. In addition, no offsite mitigation has been proposed at present. The loss of habitat will be further compounded by the noise, artificial lighting and visual disturbance that the construction period and resulting development will bring.

“We also do not regard it as appropriate to speculate that the curlew utilising the site could be effectively displaced to other habitats as has been suggested. No supporting evidence has been offered to justify the statement. There simply is a lack of suitable habitat elsewhere."

Golden Plover. Credit Margaret HollandYorkshire Wildlife Trust's objection extends to the impact on wider species present including significant numbers of golden plover and lapwing; bats which can be found commuting and foraging around the boundaries of the site; and a breeding pond for the protected great crested newt.

Useful links

Read the planning application documents in full  
Read Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's formal objection in full
Have Your Say and register a comment online

Pictured left: Golden Plover. Credit: Margaret Holland