Vote for birds ‘means sacrificing high-grade agricultural land’

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PLANS to develop Europe’s largest offshore wind park have cleared a final hurdle – despite concerns it will mean flooding high-grade agricultural land.

Chairman of the East Riding Council’s planning committee Coun Phyllis Pollard used her casting vote to approve plans to turn 90 acres of farmland near Paull into wet grassland for birds - particularly black-tailed godwits.

Able UK is due to find out next week whether the Government will give the go-ahead for the proposed £450 marine energy park on land almost opposite, on the south bank of the Humber.

Under EU regulations, the company is legally required to compensate for the loss of mudflats, the favourite feeding grounds for around 66 per cent of the Humber’s black-tailed godwits, by providing habitat elsewhere in the estuary.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has expressed concern the plan for the land at Sands Farm – part of a package of mitigation measures – may not attract the wading birds. As Coun Bryan Pearson put it yesterday the whole process could be followed “and the black-tail godwits give you a two finger salute and say I am going somewhere else”.

Coun Andrew Burton also voiced concerns “yet again we are sacrificing land for a few birds that are obviously more important than people” and the north bank was having to provide mitigation for the south. He added: “To expect to be able to reclaim this land in 10 or 20 years is a pipe dream.”

Independent councillor John Whittle added: “We are talking about using farming land to deliberately cover it with water and render it unuseable. I think it is a little bit crazy.”

However Coun Anthony Galbraith said people were quick to criticise the destruction of the rainforests, adding: “We in this country have still got to play our own part – although we have largely destroyed the natural environment anyway.”