We do not oppose sustainable economic development in the South Humber Gateway but we do not support any development which could damage or destroy an important part of the natural environment. Sustainable economic development must not come at the expense of the environment.
Our original objection to Able UK's proposal was founded on our concern that it risked harming the protected areas of the Humber estuary and the birds for which it is designated. We believed the mitigation measures that were proposed were not adequate and that would have meant the proposal, as it stood, could have damaged the SPA and Ramsar site.
This is what we did
We believe the proposed mitigation measures were inadequate in both size and location and would not minimise the potential impacts of the proposed development to an acceptable level.
We suggested a potential resolution, which involved increasing the overall size of the area of mitigation and relocating it to the fields nearest to the estuary. These suggestions were largely ignored by Able UK.
We also lobbied North Lincolnshire Council to help safeguard the future of the birds that rely on this area.
In August 2010, we wrote to members of the Council's Planning Committee, urging them to reject the proposal in its current form. This was on the grounds that it did not contain appropriate or adequate mitigation nor demonstrate there would be no adverse effect on the populations of waterbirds which are features of the Humber Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.
In October 2010, we met with Able UK, North Lincolnshire Council and Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe County in an attempt to resolve our concerns about the submitted proposal. Although there was some constructive discussion, a full agreement was not reached.
A few days later, at a hastily convened special meeting of the Planning Committee, North Lincolnshire Council voted to support Able UK's application. This decision was made in spite the fact that a number of issues remained unresolved and the necessary financial and legal agreements needed to secure a robust decision are not yet in place. There was a distinct lack of clarity around what measures were included in the plan to safeguard the local environment.
As a result, we requested that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to intervene to ensure a robust and well-considered was made.
We also wrote to the Council directly and the Environment Agency seeking clarification on a number of issues that were unclear at the Special Planning Committee.
Following a series of regular meetings with Able UK, Natural England and North Lincolnshire Council, we eventually reached an agreement over the necessary mitigation for the development and on a delivery plan to achieve this aim.
North Lincolnshire Council made a commitment to put a revised application, securing the agreed mitigation before a second planning committee should the application be returned to them from the Secretary of State for determination.
A revised application was put before a second planning committee in June 2011. This application included a revised proposal to mitigate the impacts of the development on waterbirds with at least 50 hectares of grassland and pools. We are supportive of the revised proposal which was approved. We remain concerned however about how this has been legally secured in the long term, but are optimistic that the waterbird habitat will be put in place and managed well.We hope that the endeavours of all parties will be rewarded with a positive outcome for both the wildlife and the local economy of the Humber. We will continue to monitor the progress of this development and associated mitigation and will continue to provide support and advise regarding the management of the mitigation areas as appropriate.