Nature reserve threatened by nuclear power station voted ‘Site of the Year’

Oriole Wagstaff

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Minsmere RSPB Reserve, general view of Boomacre Mere

  • RSPB Minsmere nature reserve has been voted Site of the Year in the Birdwatch Magazine/Birders' Choice Awards for 2019.
  • The reserve, home to over 5000 species, was awarded Site of the Year owing to its vast range of rare and unusual habitats and birds, including marsh harrier and bittern.
  • The news comes despite the potential detrimental environmental impacts of the proposed new nuclear power station, Sizewell C, which will border the flagship nature reserve.
  • The new accolade of Site of the Year demonstrates how many people Love Minsmere. This follows the outpour of public support for the RSPB’s Love Minsmere campaign to see the wildlife haven protected against the potential threats of Sizewell C.

RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, on the Suffolk Coast, has been named Site of the Year by Birdwatch Magazine / Birders’ Choice Awards.

With more than 5,000 different species recorded on the site, RSPB Minsmere is one of the most wildlife-rich nature reserves in the UK. Some of the UK’s rarest birds, such as marsh harriers and bitterns, make the nature reserve a nature-lover’s paradise.

Last year saw the first nesting little terns in 10 years at Minsmere, the most productive year for nesting Sandwich terns since 1977 on the reserve, and the first ground nesting kittiwakes ever in Suffolk. Avocets – the bird that appears on the RSPB’s logo – also continue to thrive after breeding in the UK for the first time at RSPB Minsmere following an absence of more than 100 years.

However, the much-loved reserve faces potential detrimental environmental impacts from EDF’s proposed new nuclear power station, Sizewell C.  At present the RSPB manages the reserve to maximise the diversity of habitats and wildlife within the site, which led to the reserve being deemed Site of the Year. However, the RSPB fears that if EDF can’t ensure that all potential adverse impacts from Sizewell C can be adequately mitigated, the charity’s ability to maintain Minsmere’s conservation condition and value for nature at these existing high levels could be compromised.

Adam Rowlands, the RSPB’s Suffolk Area Manager, said: “We are delighted to hear that Minsmere has been voted Site of the Year. The outpour of love for the reserve has been phenomenal this past year. We want to thank everyone that voted for us and thank those who are supporting our Love Minsmere campaign. We have been overwhelmed by the love for Minsmere.

“The RSPB does not believe that Sizewell is a suitable position for a new nuclear power station. As highlighted in the Government’s National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6), Sizewell C could have detrimental impacts on internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast and at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.

“But the huge amount of support for the site gives us hope that we will see the best possible outcome for the environment and nature at RSPB Minsmere and beyond."

The RSPB’s Love Minsmere campaign saw over 20,000 people write to EDF to tell them why they Love Minsmere and why it must be protected in early 2019. Later in the year, over 1000 people gathered on Minsmere’s Whin Hill, site of the BBC Springwatch studio, and one of the reserve’s most amazing viewpoints with the Sizewell Estate in the background. They formed the outline of the Love Minsmere love heart, sending a visual message to EDF that the reserve must be protected.

Rebecca Arstrong, Bird Watch Editor, said :“We run our Birders’ Choice Awards run every year in the November issue of Birdwatch. We put together a shortlist for various categories and our readers vote for their preferred option. The winners are announced in the following January issue, and for Site of the Year, RSPB Minsmere was the obvious favourite, given its popularity and the home it provides for a vast range of rare and unusual habitats and birds. It was much loved as the previous base for Springwatch and the #LoveMinsmere campaign demonstrated the public support for the future of this site. Hopefully this recognition, as Site of the Year, will help to ensure that Minsmere is properly protected against the proposed nuclear developments.”

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