Concerns for wildlife over Dee Estuary proposal


Plans to build Wales' first tidal lagoon on the Dee Estuary could harm wildlife, conservationists fear.

Mostyn SeaPower Ltd hopes turbines at the Flintshire site will provide electricity for 82,000 homes. But environmental campaigners fear the development could damage birds due to the disruption of their habitat. The company said ecological surveys had been carried out and there would be "no significant impacts" on wildlife.

The company, a subsidiary of the Port of Mostyn, hopes to construct the £600m tidal lagoon, which would be the first of its kind in Wales. At about 6.7 km in length, the lagoon wall would run along the estuary between Mostyn and Point of Ayr.

Eurasian Curlew is one of numerous bird species that could be impacted by the creation of a tidal lagoon (Jim Mountain).

The lagoon would cover an enclosed area of 12.2 km and, at high tides, would hold 72 million cubic metres of water. But while the company says with a rising energy crisis, now is the time for green energy development, others fear the location of the tidal lagoon could lead to a loss of habitat for birds.

"The Dee Estuary is one of the most heavily protected sites in the world," Adrian Lloyd Jones of the North Wales Wildlife Trust said. Mr Lloyd Jones said the area was Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation, and a Ramsar Site, a wetland site designated to be of international importance.

He said with 24,000 Pink-footed Goose recorded on the Dee Estuary in the last year, the site was also a key site for Great Cormorants, Eurasian Curlews and Little Egrets.

"There are probably better places to do it. Almost every sort of wading bird is here. I think it's very important that we do cut carbon emissions and I think developments like this can be ways of doing that," he said.

The company behind the proposals says the scheme would create 300 construction jobs and employ 35 people during its operational life of over 100 years. It hopes to complete it by the end of 2027 and recently invited bids to review the initial design and costings for the scheme.

"This will be home grown. It will be on North Wales' doorstep. It will be North Wales' energy," said managing director Jim O'Toole. Mr O'Toole said the company had been in talks with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) from the very start and was now in its second year of ecological surveys of the priority species of fish, birds and mammals in the Dee Estuary.

"We will be going through the hoops as NRW will put us through the hoops – rightly – and we believe, from what we know already, that there won't be significant impacts on the wildlife," he said. Mr O'Toole said the lagoon could even bring environmental benefits.