Wildlife fears over Dee Estuary tidal lagoon scheme
Environmental campaigners have voiced concern over proposals to build Wales’ first tidal lagoon on the Dee Estuary.
Conservationists fear the £590 million project could harm wildlife on the estuary and in particular result in disruption and the loss of habitat for birdlife, including Pink-footed Geese, Great Cormorants, Eurasian Curlews and Little Egrets.
The estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation, and a Ramsar Site, a wetland site designated to be of international importance.
“The Dee Estuary is one of the most heavily protected sites in the world,” Adrian Lloyd Jones of the North Wales Wildlife Trust told BBC Wales said.
“There are probably better places to do it. Almost every sort of wading bird is here.”
“Obviously, putting such a large structure in a very dynamic habitat will have consequences that are very, very hard to predict,” he added.
“How will it affect the mudflats that all these species feed on? I mean, that’s almost unknowable. So we would really want to see the data on that before we’d be satisfied it’s not going to have a detrimental impact.”
Last week Mostyn SeaPower Ltd, the company behind the project confirmed they have embarked on a second year of ecological surveys of the priority species of fish, birds and mammals in the estuary and pledged to monitor the laggon’s impact on wildlife.
“The studies being carried out are to establish base line data about the ecologically important species in the tidal area of the estuary,” Jim O’Toole, the managing director of the Port of Mostyn said.
“This data will provide the information necessary for comparisons to be made of the populations and behaviour of the species when the lagoon becomes operational.
“We expect to continue monitoring the wildlife for several years after the lagoon starts operating .
“Among the species we’ll be looking for in the latest round of surveys will be glass eels which are unusual because they are believed to migrate only during full moon periods in the months of February, March and April when the tides are at their highest. .
“For the surveys we have fitted a specially designed net to our boat the Eileen that will go out and trawl for the glass eels like an ordinary fishing boat would. On board will be our own local crew and three marine biologist who will haul in the catch and inspect and measure them before returning them back into the estuary.”
“This is an important element in the programme because all this information will be included in the environmental impact statement as part of the process in support of our General Development Order application for the scheme,” he added.
“We expect to complete this study programme at the end of this year and we would hope to get consent by the latter end of 2023. .
“In the meantime, we’ve already had two rounds of geophysical surveys and sampling of the sea bed sediment which will enable us to firm up the design for which we’re about to go out to tender.
The 6.7 km long lagoon wall would run along the estuary between Mostyn and Point of Ayr and could provide electricity for 82,000 homes.
If the project gets the green light, Mostyn SeaPower estimate the scheme will create 300 construction jobs and employ 35 people.
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