Ecological Mitigation Project
The South Humber Bank, where the South Humber Industrial Investment Programme sits is a protected area for wildlife – it is a vital winter-feeding ground for birds, which migrate to the estuary’s mudflats.
Declared a SPA (Special Protection Area), Ramsar and SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) area, any development along its banks must come with the necessary work and investment required to create ‘mitigation areas’.
In planning our project, we considered what would give us a true competitive advantage when firms were looking at areas in which to invest. We concluded that our strategy needed to promote economic growth whilst conserving the environment. As a result, the Cress Marsh scheme was developed, which offers more than 40ha of wetland, which will ‘offset’ industrial development within the SHIIP area. The following is pre-prepared and sorted:
- The detailed Habitat Regulations Assessment and a Wintering Bird survey;
- The strategic mitigation scheme, which is part of any planning process;
- The simple habitat regulations assessment.
This means that no detailed surveys are required, avoiding the often-expensive delays that come with such work. Such work will normally delays the planning process by up to 12-weeks. All of this is done for a fee of £11k per hectare.
As for Cress Marsh itself, its success is already speaking for itself:
- The site has been developed through a partnership with the environmental groups – Natural England, RSPB, Humber Nature Partnership, Environment Agency and Lincs Wildlife Trust;
- It is the only project of its type in the UK or Europe which is developing mitigation sites in advance of industrial demand;
- It will release over 400ha of industrial development land;
- The area is owned by North East Lincolnshire Council and now completed;
- It is already attracting significant wildlife including 13 different bird species – some, such as spoonbills, are a rare sight in the UK;
- Winner of the Planning for the Natural Environment Award 2020.
In January 2021, the announcement of an all new ecological mitigation site was made. Novartis Ings, a legacy to pharmaceutical giant Novartis is to be developed, providing further industrial opportunities for the region.