Knot Calidris canutus at a high tide wader roost at Freiston Shore RSPB reserve. Also in the flock are Dunlin Calidris alpina. The Wash. Lincolnshire, England.

Cases that went ahead with suitable checks and balances

Cases that went ahead with suitable checks and balances, including Humber urgent flood defence works and Immingham, North Lincolnshire.

Humber urgent flood defence works

The site:

The Humber Flats, Marshes and Coast SPA is an internationally important wintering wader site, regularly supporting more than 150,000 birds. Important wintering wader populations include the likes of knot, dunlin, redshank and shelduck. 

The objection:

In 2000, the Environment Agency brought forward a set of proposals for urgent sea defence works to reduce flood risk to land adjacent to the estuary. The Environment Agency agreed that the programme of works would be likely to have an adverse effect on the SPA through the permanent loss of inter-tidal feeding areas for bird species cited in the SPA designation. 

This was due to the toe of the defences encroaching into mudflats and further long-term losses due to coastal squeeze. The Environment Agency demonstrated that there were no alternatives and the schemes had reasons of imperative overriding public interest. The Agency proposed to provide compensatory inter-tidal habitat at Paull Holme Strays, on the north bank of the Humber. 

The compensatory habitat was to be provided as part of a larger flood defence scheme, to re-align existing sea defences. It would provide a sustainable flood management option, as well as providing compensatory habitat for the urgent works and helping to offset long-term effects of coastal squeeze. 

The outcome: 

The RSPB and EN agreed that the proposed programme of works would be likely to have an adverse effect on the SPA, but they passed the tests of the habitats regulations. Compensatory habitat was therefore required. Planning permission was granted for the urgent works, and for the compensating managed retreat site at Paull Holme Strays, using a planning agreement to link the delivery of the schemes in different local authority areas. 

The delivery of the scheme is supported by a compensation agreement with clear ecological targets, monitoring and review periods.

Immingham, North Lincolnshire

The site:  

The Humber Flats, Marshes and Coast SPA is an internationally important wintering wader site, regularly supporting more than 150,000 birds. Important wintering water bird populations include knots, dunlins, redshanks and shelducks. Extensions to the SPA were proposed in 2000, which included inter-tidal mudflats at Immingham.

The proposal:

In 2001, the port authority proposed an extension to the Humber International Terminal at Immingham to create a new roll-on, roll-off ferry terminal. This incorporated dredging the existing inter-tidal area to a depth of 10 metres and some reclamation, resulting in a direct loss of mudflat within the proposed SPA extension.

The objection:  

The RSPB initially objected to the proposal because there would be an adverse effect on the integrity of the site due to the loss of internationally important inter-tidal mudflat and uncertainty over the impacts on the wider estuary of removing and dumping the dredged material. 

The developer accepted that its development would have an adverse effect on the integrity of the European site. It improved the information available to inform the Government’s consideration of alternative solutions and imperative reasons of overriding public interest. 

The developer systematically identified potential sites where replacement habitat could be provided, according to criteria based on restoring the ecological functions that would be lost. The developer has entered a legal agreement with conservation organisations to provide adequate habitat compensation to maintain the integrity of the Natura 2000 network. 

This includes clear ecological targets and commitments to monitoring and management to ensure that the habitat is delivered. Only once these measures were in place were the RSPB and English Nature able to withdraw their objections.

The outcome:  

The development went ahead but with compensation measures in place including two managed re-alignment schemes to create intertidal habitats for feeding waterbirds, including dunlin and black-tailed godwit.

Shelduck, Tadorna tadorna, swimming, Martin Mere, Lancashire
Shelduck