Monday, 24 August 2009

Business Park to trash bird habitats

A few weeks ago a report by George Monbiot in The Guardian newspaper detailed subsidies of over £80 million over the last ten years for airport expansion in the UK, channelled via many government agencies including bodies controlled by the Scottish and Welsh national assemblies and EU funding via unelected Regional Development Authorities (RDAs). A considerable proportion of this is freight related including a truck park and warehousing at Kent Airport, maintenance hangars at Glasgow Prestwick Airport and a business park at Newcastle Airport. Yet many subsidies for aviation expansion all over the UK were not captured by Monbiot’s information request. I’ll gradually get around to blogging some of these.

For starters, there was European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Highland Council funding a for link road, which opened in 2006, to provide access for Inverness Airport Business Park. In the Inverness Airport Masterplan it is stated that the area designated for the business park ‘earmarked for aviation related development such as hangars; maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and cargo/freight interchange’ and it is explicit that the business park will help the airport expand as it is described as an ‘important catalyst for growth at the airport’.

The outline planning application for Inverness Airport Business Park was submitted in February 2008. The development site is 250 hectares of land adjacent to the airfield on the west and south.
View Larger MapIt is being built on green space, 34 per cent of the site is prime agricultural land used for arable crops and 25 per cent is a coniferous plantation. The Masterplan up to 2010 includes development of a 3,000 m² building with landside access road and rear side access area. The business park is part of the A96 Growth Corridor Development Framework for a multimodal transport gateway of road, rail and air links and will incorporate business premises and light industry.

As the development area is substantial and some of it will not be built on there is scope for mitigating habitat loss for some species like bats, badgers and red squirrels on other areas of the site as detailed in the Environmental Statement. The ‘Woodland Zone’ is to be a mix of business and light industrial uses set partly within Dulcross Wood, following the tradition of naming developments after the natural habitats that have been, to a certain extent, trashed to accommodate them. But some of the environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated will affect the breeding habitats of endangered wild and farmland bird species. This includes goshawks (pictured), of which there are only about 100 pairs in the whole of Scotland. They are only found in a few sites as they nest in large, undisturbed forests, preferring to return to the same site year after year.

The business park is a more serious threat to skylarks and grey partridges, with the irrevocable loss of breeding habitat. Skylarks are highlighted by the RSPB as needing urgent action is needed to secure the future of the species. In 2007 it was reported that the population of grey partridges, iconic farmland species with a distinctive orange face, had crashed from about 145,000 by over 80 per cent in 25 years due to pesticides, predators plus loss of habitats hedgerows and grasslands.

free counters