Able Marine Energy Park

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Casework type: Industry Megasites: The Humber Estuary Site designations: Ramsar site Site designations: SAC Site designations: SPA Site designations: SSSI
 Humber estuary. Saltmarsh at Pyewipe, Grimsby.

Overview

The development would result in the loss of half a square kilometre of estuarine habitat, which internationally important wildlife relies on heavily for its survival. 

Able UK Ltd submitted an application to the Infrastructure Planning Committee (now the National Infrastructure Directorate) for permission to build a marine energy park, at Killingholme Marshes on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, which will service the offshore renewable energy industry.

We are concerned that the proposed compensation package to offset this loss is insufficient and not fit for purpose.

For this reason we objected to the application and actively engaged in the examination process, including attending all the nature conservation hearings, with the aim of securing measures which reduce the predicted impacts and compensates for any remaining damage which would be caused by this development. 

You can learn more about the proposal at National Infrastructure Planning - Able Marine Energy Park.

Map

Why is it worth fighting for?

The Humber estuary is vital for huge numbers of migrating and wintering birds who come from as far away as North America to feast on the calorie-rich invertebrates that live in the estuary mud.

In late summer and autumn, hundreds of thousands of birds arrive on the Humber, transforming the estuary into a bustling avian airport. Some of the birds use the estuary as a stopover to refuel before continuing their migratory journey south, while many others stay there for the whole winter.

Such is the importance of the Humber, it has been designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive, a Ramsar site, designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Mudflats of the River Thames. Rainham Marshes RSPB Reserve

Our position

As a conservation organisation, we believe climate change is the biggest current threat to the environment and that the development of the renewable energy sector is vital in reducing carbon emissions.

Accordingly, we support the need for the development of the offshore wind industry in order to meet our climate and renewable energy targets. However, developers need to ensure the necessary infrastructure either does not have a negative effect on the environment, or that any negative effects are minimised or addressed through compensation.

A prime example of this was the recent application by Associated British Ports (ABP) for the development of its Green Port Hull facility, which would be used to manufacture and construct offshore wind turbines. Working with the RSPB and other environmental groups, ABP showed their commitment to sustainable development by fully addressing the environmental impacts of their proposal and putting in robust measures to minimise the predicted impacts and compensate for any remaining damage.

Unfortunately, we do not believe Able UK have addressed all of the environmental issues in their application for the marine energy park. Due to the development resulting in the loss of half a square kilometre of internationally important estuarine habitat - heavily relied upon by wildlife for its survival - we are concerned the proposed compensation package to offset this loss is insufficient and not fit for purpose.

As a result, we objected to the application, with the aim of securing measures which both mitigate and compensate for any remaining damage which would be caused by this development if consent is granted.

Timeline

  • October 2014
    Despite the RSPB continuing to argue that the proposed compensation package was insufficient and not fit for purpose, the application was consented.

  • 24 May 2013
    Deadline for Secretary of State to make decision
  • February 2013
    Examination Authority issues recommendation to Secretary of State for Transport
  • 25 November 2012
    Examination ends

  • Sept - November 2012
    Several Issue Specific Hearings on nature conservation including regulatory requirements, proposed mitigation and compensation measures and planning conditions

  • 29 June 2012
    Deadline for Written Representations and comments on Representations made so far
  • 24 May 2012
    Preliminary Meeting to be held in Immingham to discuss timetable and procedure for the Examination
  • 2 April 2012
    The period for registering an interest in the application ends

  • 1 April 2012
    The IPC cease to exist and the National Infrastructure Directorate, which is a part of the Planning Inspectorate, is formed and will consider this application

  • 23 February 2012
    The period for registering an interest in the application opens
  • January 2012
    The IPC accept Able UK's application for examination

  • December 2011
    Able UK submit their application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)
  • August 2011
    The final pieces of information regarding nature conservation impacts are gathered and prepared for submission as part of the application for a Development Consent Order and Marine Licence to build the Marine Energy Park. The RSPB's concerns remain despite attempts to work with the applicant to find more appropriate solutions to addressing the impacts of the development on internationally important wildlife

  • July 2011
    Pre-application consultation continues. The RSPB reiterated its concerns the application will cause damage to internationally important wildlife of the Humber Estuary and does not contain adequate measures to address the potential environmental impacts
  • June 2011
    Detailed pre-application consultation begins. Able UK seeks the views of organisations such as the RSPB and Natural England on some of the nature conservation issues raised by this proposal
  • March 2011
    We submit our response to the Preliminary Environmental Information Report. The RSPB expresses concern the application will cause damage to internationally important wildlife of the Humber Estuary and does not contain adequate measures to address the potential environmental impacts

  • February 2011
    Able UK consult upon their Preliminary Environmental Information Report for the Marine Energy Park

  • January 2011
    We begin regular consultation meetings with Able UK and Natural England

Outcome

Despite the RSPB continuing to argue that the proposed compensation package was insufficient and not fit for purpose, the application was consented in October 2014. We still have serious concerns over whether the required replacement habitat will provide the food needed by the birds that are losing their habitats at North Killingholme. We will therefore continue to scrutinise the creation, management and monitoring of the new habitat to understand whether it is doing the required job.