Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by English Nature (P 08A)

TRANSPORT SUB-COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO PORTS

BACKGROUND

  At the oral session of the Inquiry on 28 March, English Nature undertook to provide further details of the habitat creation work at Kilnsea resulting from a Section 16 Agreement between English Nature and Associated British Ports. This supplementary evidence fulfils that commitment.

  In providing this evidence, we also wish to refute the accusations that we "stole" the Kilnsea site from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  To create new wetland habitat on former arable to offset habitat lost at Saltend and Immingham as part of consented port development. Initially the project sought to create freshwater wetland and wet grassland habitat, which might be used largely by roosting and feeding waterfowl (wildfowl and waders). This land is considered to be a possible site for managed realignment and the creation of new mudflat following the completion of the Humber Estuary Shoreline Management Plan and identification of appropriate managed realignment options.

WORK UNDERTAKEN SO FAR BY ENGLISH NATURE

  The agreement was completed on 24 December 1998. English Nature leased the Kilnsea land from ABP and has undertaken the necessary management work to secure the initial phase of habitat creation (ie wet grassland).

    —  Breaking of existing field drains to impede drainage and allow the site to wet-up.

    —  Fencing to a standard sufficient to satisfy the requirements of a local grazier.

    —  Establishment of grass sward.

    —  Securing grazing to bring the new grassland into a condition suitable for the wetland birds.

    —  Establishment of dipwells to monitor progress of impeded drainage and increased water levels.

    —  Monitoring numbers of birds using the site.

COSTS

  English Nature have undertaken all of the management work including setting up and quality assuring contracts (eg fencing). Furthermore, we have established monitoring programmes for water levels and bird usage and have done this work using our own staff. Additionally, we have been working to secure more detailed monitoring work through links with the University of Hull. Capital costs for materials have been claimed back from ABP, but staff costs have been borne by English Nature. These amount to:

Resource
Preparatory work
Time input
Ongoing staff costs (time)
Daily rate £
Chartered Surveyor
Grazing licences, liaison with ABP
5 days
2 days yr
153.55
Site management staff
Fencing, gates, dipwells, breaking land drains etc
8 days
4 days yr
92.03
Conservation Officer
Monitoring dipwells, liaising with graziers etc. Overseeing bird monitoring
12 days
8 days yr
122.93


  Staff costs are therefore estimated at £2,979 with an ongoing yearly commitment of £983 per annum. This estimate does not include other costs such as office space and support on-costs that would normally be charged in a commercial environment. Nor does it include the other transport and subsistence costs that these are. However, it is worth pointing out that the project is overseen from our offices at York, which are some considerable distance from Kilnsea.

NATURE CONSERVATION BENEFIT

  The site is meeting its initial objectives and is now deceptively wet with pools of water amongst grass. Bird usage continues to increase, with peak counts of up to 2,500. The only species which is not represented on the site, but was displaced by the developments, is ringed plover, a bird which would not be expected to visit the site. Wet coastal grasslands are a very rare resource around the Humber and although the site does not compensate for lost habitats "like for like" it has made an important contribution to the overall suite of habitats available to migratory waterfowl. On a recent visit our staff also noted displaying lapwing, suggesting that the site is in appropriate condition to support breeding birds.

NOTE ON LEASE ARRANGEMENTS

  This agreement was the result of negotiations between English Nature and ABP. Initially, it had been suggested that the site should be passed on to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, but finally English Nature agreed to responsibility for managing the site. The rationale for this was that YWT had more limited staff resources than English Nature and would be less well-placed to deliver the results that were needed. This was exemplified by the failure of the Trust to manage a similar parcel of land which has been their responsibility for some years and has still to be reverted to wet grassland.

LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES

  Part of this land is strategically placed for managed realignment and we would ultimately expect the sea walls to be moved. Such a project would require substantial capital costs and the involvement of various other agencies such as the Environment Agency. It would therefore be unreasonable to assert that this was English Nature's responsibility and that we had failed to deliver what ABP had expected. At the time of the agreement, the Humber Estuary Shoreline Management Plan had not been completed and it was premature to expect the resulting flood defence strategy to be implemented.

April 200l


 
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