Way out west

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Way out west

South west England is rich in wildlife - from the high moors to the coast and out to sea, it's one of the most wonderful regions in the UK. This blog celebrates all that's wild about the region. Here we will share insights into our work to protect
  • RSPB view on Navitus Bay Wind Park in Dorset

    On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date it is likely that the offshore elements of the Navitus Bay Wind Park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations. However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant species before it is completely satisfied with this development. The RSPB also has some concerns about the onshore works associated with cabling, and with other species including Atlantic salmon and long-snouted sea-horse.

    The RSPB have engaged with the Navitus Bay project since 2010. We have attended meetings, presentations and responded to public consultations. 

    In May 2014 Navitus Bay Development Limited (NBDL)  submitted their project for consent, together with supporting information including an Environmental Statement (ES), which details the implications of building, operating, maintaining and ultimately decommissioning the wind farm on all important environmental features including wildlife. 

    It is highly unlikely that Navitus Bay if constructed would not harm some birds, much in the same way every year many birds die in collision with windows, pylons and many other man-made objects. However, birds dying in collision with objects, whilst regrettable, does not necessarily lead to negative effects on bird populations. So, the key question for us is whether this development will cause such additional and regular mortality that it will lead to long term declines.

    We have now completed our analysis of the ES, and submitted a response to the Planning Inspectorate (a version of which you can download on this page). 

    On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date it is likely that the offshore elements of the wind park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations. However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant species before it is completely satisfied with this development.

    However, we do have concerns about the onshore effects of constructing the cable route. These include potential habitat loss, due to the cable being routed in part across Dorset’s world famous heathlands and potential recreational disturbance caused by people being displaced (as a result of cabling works) into other protected heathland areas.  In both cases we will be seeking solutions with NBDL.

    In terms of other wildlife, the RSPB does have some concerns over the effect of the development on Atlantic salmon, but we defer to Environment Agency’s expertise on this matter. We also have some concerns over the effect of the Project on long snouted seahorses and black bream but will defer to Natural England and The Seahorse Trust’s expertise on this matter.

    It is important to bear in mind that our position is based on our interpretation of the ES, which in turn is based on our experience of dealing with similar planning cases. But ultimately a judgment must be made on the significance of potential impacts. Others may judge the matter differently – and we respect that. Ultimately, it is the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State that will weigh the evidence and make a decision on the construction of this Wind Park.

    Our full representation to the Planning Inspectorate is attached below.

  • Dorset coast wins major cash boost for wildlife, people and jobs

    An RSPB bid has secured a £650k cash award to benefit the local Dorset economy from the Coastal Communities Fund and kick-start new nature and people projects along the coast.

    The grant is a major boost for people and wildlife and has been awarded to improve the facilities and visitor experience at wildlife attractions in Wareham, Weymouth and Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

    Sarah Webb, the RSPB’s Project Manager in Dorset said: “This grant is a huge boost for projects for the community and wildlife that we’ve been fundraising for. The South West trades on the quality of its natural environment and it’s great to see Dorset’s wildlife assets recognised for their potential to boost the year-round economy and create jobs.”

    A visitor centre, shop and cafe will be developed at RSPB Arne, scheduled to open next year to provide a year-round, all-weather welcome for everyone.

    At RSPB Radipole, new outdoor facilities will provide more fun for all the family, and a much valued community resource with an expanded outdoor cafe.

    There will also be new events and activities, and volunteering and training opportunities developed as part of the project.

    In total, nine jobs will be directly created by the project, with new visitor and volunteering opportunities providing a further boost to the local economy.

    Mrs Webb said: “we are really looking forward to starting work on improving facilities at Arne and Radipole, and working with partners and volunteers in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch to develop more opportunities for people to get out and connected with nature.”

  • Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan: Good words must translate into real change

    The RSPB welcomes the publication of the Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan today.

    The national wildlife charity, which manages 1750 acres of land in the flood-affected area, has been involved in an advisory role in the plan’s development.

    Mark Robins, speaking for the RSPB in the South West; said: “This is a unique opportunity to build a brighter future for this special place and its communities, by putting nature as a key element at the heart of its recovery.

    “There is a growing consensus around a common vision for the Levels. One that by 2030 sees the area as a thriving, nature-rich wetland landscape, with grassland farming taking place on the majority of the land.  The impact of extreme weather events is being reduced by land and water management in both the upper catchments and the flood plain and by greater community resilience.

    “The plan published today is a step in this direction. However, we need to make sure good words translate into real change, as a matter of urgency.

    “It’s good to read that we must increase resilience to flooding for families, agriculture, businesses, communities, and wildlife by maximising the benefits from catchment sensitive farming. But will it translate it real change at the scale of what’s needed? Are we prepared to see a significant percentage of land in the catchment managed sensitively to enable flood reduction? And here nature is a real ally – we believe this, but do others want to change? Surely everyone agrees that a return to “business as usual” is not enough after the tragic events of the last few months.

    “Government has a big choice, right now, in implementing the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) package which must give Somerset the opportunity to do more to make the land and farming more resilient to floods. The plan does signal that this year Defra will be securing flood risk benefits in CAP implementation – this is a really important step if the government make the right choices.

    “It’s good to read that we must make the most of special characteristics of the Levels, including wildlife, but most of the key opportunities for doing this are once again parked as longer term choices. Done well wildlife can help make the case for investment in the Levels.

    “It’s good to read that there will strong local leadership, supported by local partners and communities. But we’ve heard this so many times over the past few decades. Something strong really needs to emerge now, or the opportunity for a better future will be squandered once again.

    “The RSPB stands ready to be really constructive, and to work with all parties for genuine change. Real leadership is absolutely key to this.

    “The plan signals solutions which are good for people, good for the environment and good for business.”

    “However is there enough momentum for change; for action on the scale necessary for a safer, more resilient and brighter future for the Levels?”