Wildlife agency raises no objections to marine energy park

Government wildlife watchdog Natural England has confirmed that it will not stand in the way of submission of plans for a marine energy park on Humberside to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

Able UK is proposing the 327-hectare development at Killingholme Marshes, next to the port of Immingham on the south side of the Humber estuary. The site falls within the Humber enterprise zone, approved by the government this summer.  

The company is proposing to develop the site as a base for manufacturing, commissioning, installation and recycling of offshore wind turbines. It carried out a public consultation exercise on the project in February.

Conservation group RSPB claims the project will destroy 55 hectares of estuarine mudflats in a special protection area designated under the European wild birds directive. The estuary is a feeding ground for black-tailed godwit, curlew and redshank.

But the National Infrastructure Plan, announced alongside last month’s autumn statement, revealed that Natural England believes that "satisfactory options" are available to address the main nature conservation concerns surrounding the project and need not hold it up.  

A Natural England source said: "We are fully aware of the importance of the proposed marine energy park and the potential it offers to increase job opportunities and boost local, regional and national economies.

"We have supported Able UK with advice on the environmental implications of its proposals, particularly providing detailed advice on potential options to compensate and mitigate for the loss of important bird habitats, in order to help it prepare its case for submission to the IPC.

"We have reached a common understanding of the detailed type and extent of mitigation and compensation required. While there are still a number of aspects which need to be finalised, Able UK has developed a range of options which, in our view, are appropriate to enable the scheme to be submitted to the IPC without further input from Natural England."

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