RSPB Minsmere's international status at risk from Sizewell C
Award set for renewal on condition that Sizewell C will not be detrimental to flagship RSPB nature reserve
Minsmere nature reserve’s status as one of Europe’s most important areas for nature and biodiversity could be at risk if EDF fails to adequately mitigate adverse impacts from Sizewell C, the RSPB has revealed.
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.” [Note 1]
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.
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.” [Note 2]
The RSPB’s flagship nature reserve on the Suffolk Coast was first recognised with the award in 1979. Earlier that decade the extinction of the marsh harrier as a breeding bird in the UK had been prevented thanks to a single pair nesting at Minsmere in 1971.
The European Diploma is not awarded in perpetuity – due to its recognition of exemplary management of areas important for nature it is subject to regular review and, if the stringent criteria are met, renewal. It is indicative of Minsmere’s extraordinary success in the area of wildlife conservation that the reserve’s Diploma has been successfully renewed four times since 1979.
In the report of 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 renewal of the award.
The RSPB’s Area Manager for Suffolk, Adam Rowlands, said: “We’re obviously delighted that Minsmere’s international importance for wildlife and conservation has again been considered for renewal of the European Diploma in 2019, forty years after it first received the award.
“It is a real testament to the team of people who work to keep the reserve in the best possible condition for the wildlife that lives here that they have maintained such consistently high standards of management.
“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.
“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.”
Earlier this month, Sizewell C developer EDF committed to sharing information with the RSPB “to understand the potential impacts of the construction of the station and how they could be mitigated to protect Minsmere from potential harm.” [Note 3]
Adam Rowlands: “This further underlines the need for EDF to share the information we need to adequately assess the likely impacts Sizewell C could have on Minsmere – sooner, rather than later.”
The Stage 3 public consultation on Sizewell C runs until 29 March. More than 14,000 people have joined the RSPB in calling on EDF to commit to ensuring Minsmere is protected in their plans for the new nuclear power plant.
Visit loveminsmere.org to add your voice.
27 March 2019
Share this story