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Minsmere's status as UK's 'most important bird reserve' at risk from Sizewell C impact - report

PUBLISHED: 12:05 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:15 26 March 2019

Ten marsh harriers over reed beds at Minsmere  Picture: Steve Everett

Ten marsh harriers over reed beds at Minsmere Picture: Steve Everett

Copyright Steve Everett 2013

Nature reserve’s European designation dependant on impact from nuclear plant being adequately mitigated, RSPB reveals.

RSPB Minsmere reedbed landscape  Picture: David Tipling/RSPBRSPB Minsmere reedbed landscape Picture: David Tipling/RSPB

The renewal of Minsmere’s European Diploma for Protected Areas has been approved in draft on the condition that “the construction of the new reactor will not be at the detriment of the Minsmere Reserve.”

The European Diploma for Protected Areas is a prestigious international award granted since 1965 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It recognises natural and semi-natural areas and landscapes of exceptional European importance for the preservation of biological, geological and landscape diversity and which are managed in an exemplary way.

READ MORE: RSPB urges supporters to take up ‘last chance’ for say on Sizewell C

Bittern at RSPB Minsmere Picture: RSPBBittern at RSPB Minsmere Picture: RSPB

Renewal

Minsmere is one of only five sites in the UK to have been awarded the European Diploma. The others are Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Fair Isle National Scenic Area, Peak District National Park, and Purbeck Heritage Coast. The Council of Europe’s website describes Minsmere as “the most important bird reserve in the United Kingdom.”

The European Diploma is not awarded in perpetuity and sites are subject to regular renewal. Minsmere’s Diploma has been successfully renewed four times since 1979.

World War ll defences and dunes on Minsmere seafront with Sizewell B in the background Picture: David Tipling/RSPBWorld War ll defences and dunes on Minsmere seafront with Sizewell B in the background Picture: David Tipling/RSPB

In a report on Minsmere in June 2018, the Council of Europe’s appointed expert noted, “the worrying insufficient information regarding the environmental effects of the project of a third reactor in the Sizewell nuclear power plant” as the reason for applying the condition to the latest renewal of the award.

Consulting

The RSPB’s area manager for Suffolk, Adam Rowlands, said the caveat emphasises the importance of EDF Energy, who is proposing Sizewell, providing comprehensive information on the expected impact of its plans.

RSPB Suffolk area manager Adam Rowlands with MP James Cartlidge Picture: RSPBRSPB Suffolk area manager Adam Rowlands with MP James Cartlidge Picture: RSPB

He said: “The condition applied to the draft renewal of the award this year sends a very clear message though – Minsmere’s continued value to nature and biodiversity is not a given, it depends on how we look after it.

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“If EDF fails to ensure that any adverse impacts from Sizewell C can be adequately mitigated, our ability to maintain Minsmere’s condition and value for nature at these existing high levels could be compromised. That is not something we could stand idly by and let happen.”

EDF says it has been consulting with the RSPB and feedback will be taken into consideration before final plans are published.

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