The Industrial Development of Canvey Island in the form of OIKOS’ deep water Jetty proposal, to extend some 260 metres out from the shore, refurbishment of an existing 12 tank storage compound and the undertaking of related operational and site infrastructure works appears to have attracted some attention!
Our friends at the Yellow Advertiser have a report suggesting the RSPB have some serious concerns regarding the construction of a new large jetty to service the OIKOS Hazardous site.
NATIONAL charity RSPB has said it objected to plans for a new deep water jetty on Canvey due to Oikos’ failure to assess its impact on globally and internationally important numbers of wading birds.
Castle Point Council approved the plans earlier this month, which also include the demolition and replacement of 12 storage tanks.
The jetty will accommodate vessels up to and including 120,000 deadweight tonnage tankers.
An RSPB spokesman said the site is between internationally important and protected sites – The Thames Estuary and Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA), Southend and Benfleet SPA and Holehaven Creek Site of Special Scientific Interest.
He added that they had been allocated primarily because they are home to globally significant numbers of wintering black-tailed godwits; around nine per cent of the world’s population of Icelandic race of the species roost in Holehaven Creek.
The sites also support important numbers of other winter waders who feed on mudflats in the estuary where the jetty would be located.
The RSPB said a survey of birds that use the mudflats should have been carried out to assess the importance of the mudflats and the potential impact of the development.
Conservation officer Mark Nowers said: “The RSPB always looks to ensure that any large developments close to important wildlife sites are subject to assessment of their potential impact on the species and habitats of these valuable places.
“Holehaven Creek is an incredibly important site for black-tailed godwits. The lack of development in the creek and its relatively undisturbed nature makes it a magnet for thousands of birds.
“The RSPB will always challenge councils to make the best decisions so that our most important wildlife sites are conserved and enhanced.”
An Oikos spokesman said: “As part of the planning application Oikos conducted full environmental assessments based on the maximum number of birds that could potentially use the Special Protection Areas.
“The timing of construction activity was planned according to that information. This approach was accepted by Natural England who are one of the statutory consultees on environmental issues.”
Published: 25 August 2016 By Michael Cox in Environment
Castle Point Council’s Proposal Approval date 3.08.16
Amongst Natural England’s cherry picked comments submitted to CPBC and Dated: 28 April 2016:
We can confirm that the proposed works are located adjacent to the European sites listed above. Natural England advises that there is insufficient information provided in the application to exclude that the application will have a significant effect on the SPA and Ramsar.
Owing to our concerns flagged up in this response, Natural England strongly advises that the applicant considers engaging with us through our Discretionary Advice Service for guidance on making sufficient assessment of the effects of the proposed works on the designated sites.
The HRA has considered the impacts of the proposal within a 5km buffer however Southend and Benfleet Marshes SSSI, SPA and Ramsar fall within this buffer, but have not been considered. Natural England would like to have a further explanation as to why this designation was not included within the assessment.
Whilst Natural England is mindful of the development programme and does not want to delay matters, it respectfully suggests that the ES should have recognised the need for overwintering bird surveys as a fundamental element of its evidence base to enable assessment and appropriate avoidance, mitigation and/or compensation measures to be proposed.
Piling activity will take place for 85 days and the exact timings of when this activity will take place is unclear, however it is understood that the piling activity will not take place during the period April to September to avoid the fish migration period. It is therefore likely that piling activity will take place during the overwintering period for birds using the designated areas.
Natural England notes with reference to Appendix 8.1, the nationally endangered Schedule 8 species Lactuca saligna, and nationally rare species Polypogon monspeliensis, Hordeum marinum are listed as occurring within the site (eg, ESP 6, various & ESP 7 -10 respectively). These three plant species are listed under the Thames Estuary and Marshes Ramsar site criteria 2.
The timing of the Natural England comments and the date of CPBC committee approval, just 4 months later, suggest that the requested surveys and damage limitation measures may not have been completed satisfactorily.
Officers at CPBC appear to be keen on making Assumptions so as to progress, even sensitive, development proposals with what may be inferred as undue haste.
That the RSPB appear not to have been included within the Application Consultation list, can only be considered a terrible oversight by CPBC given that the RSPB own and are responsible for such large areas of sensitive neighbouring land on Canvey Island.!
The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, wish to make clear that Canvey Island residents should prepare themselves for some quite disturbing levels of pollution, both noise and environmental during the construction period.
Due to only just over 100 residents being informed of this application coming before the CPBC development committee, many residents would have been unaware of the decision-making meeting and the application’s approval implications.
This indicates a lack of successful engagement with Canvey Island residents over significant development planning matters. Furthermore our local representatives should be exploring better means of engagement with the public and information availability.