This blog is where you can read about the places we work to protect and the people on the front line. The scope of this blog covers planning, the policies and legal framework that exists to protect the best places for wildlife and of, of course, the individual cases that are the daily work of staff across the UK. We help BirdLife International partners overseas – and you will be able to read contributions from Europe and further afield.
Of course – probably of the best way to save a site is to a acquire it as a nature reserve – this blog will sometimes feature our reserves and the role they play in future of our wildlife, but the full story of the RSPBs network of nature reserves is told elsewhere: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves
This blog features the contributions of many individuals – I will have the pleasure of holding the ring and acting as the narrator to this compelling story. So a little about me; I’m Andre Farrar and my first active involvement with the RSPB was in the late 1970s as a volunteer with our Leeds Local Group http://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/leeds.
I was one of many who wrote to their MPs as part of the campaign to get the best outcome for what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It wasn’t perfect but it was a good start. Thirty years on, I’m still in the thick of it campaigning for our protected areas and special places for wildlife. Are we winning? Read on and find out, and see how you can help.
In just a few short weeks the great migration of wildfowl and waders will be underway from the arctic. A stream of birds will head south to escape the rigours of the arctic winter. At first the move south is leisurely turning to a flood as summer gives way to the autumn.
Our islands are perfectly situated to provide the migration stop-overs and safe havens for the winter that long distance migrants like bar-tailed godwits need. Our muddy coasts and estuaries are food-rich service stations for birds which link the globe with their epic journeys.
Protecting these muddy restaurants is one of the most important roles we can play in sustaining these international travellers. That is just one of the reasons why we are calling for the rejection of an application to build a new coal fired power station at Hunterston on the Ayrshire coast. This is a case we’ve been following through these posts and a new stage in the campaign to stop this development has now been reached – the application to build the massively polluting power station was lodged with the Scottish Government on 2 June.
Since mid-March, when this application was submitted for initial scrutiny, many people have contacted the Scottish Government expressing the view that this is the wrong project in the wrong place – if you have already put pen to paper, then thank you. Now the application has gone to the next, formal, level it’s really important that we re-double efforts to highlight the risks going ahead with a new coal-fired power station will bring. Here’s how you can help – but the clock is ticking we have only 28 days from 2 June.
Southannan sands is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and it’s redshanks and eiders, ringed plovers and dunlin (pictured) are in direct jeopardy of losing their winter home with the destruction of 30 ha of the site. But that is only part of the story. Hunterston’s new power station would burn coal and thus massively increase greenhouse gas emissions – just at a time the Scottish Government is setting a world lead on its ambitions to reduce those emissions by 42% by 2020.
Aedán Smith, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Planning and Development is clear about the risk this proposal poses to Scotland’s ambitions: ‘This proposal flies in the face of the emissions reduction targets the Scottish Government has set. It shouldn’t even be up for consideration as it will mean a net gain in damaging emissions that we should be trying our hardest to reduce. Research by the Government and others has shown that Scotland’s energy needs can be met by well-located renewable technology.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a developing technology that has the potential to tackle the carbon emissions generated when burning coal. CCS is completely un-tested at this scale and we believe that it would be better to run trials on existing coal-fired power stations in Scotland where it would result in a net reduction in emissions.
As Aedán concludes: ‘We are calling on the Scottish Government to do the right thing and demonstrate its commitment to meeting its targets by throwing out this proposal. Instead it should concentrate on bringing forth renewable developments in the right place and reducing emissions from existing sources. This will help realise those climate change targets without further threatening the environment.
The campaign to stop Hunterston has its own facebook page.