08 May 2012

Where the wild things were today

This morning's high tide at, arguably, Gwent's most important wader roost produced three Curlew Sandpiper, one Sanderling, seven Turnstone, 15 Whimbrel and plenty of the common stuff.

Picking out the Dunlin from amongst the plastic detritus, all part of the fun at St. Brides. About 1,000 of the little fellas were present this morning, a significant proportion of the Severn Estuary population at this, or any other, time of year.

Numbers of Ringed Plover have fallen over the last few days, 200 were present on Saturday, 45 today. The estuary holds nationally important numbers during spring and autumn passage; the numbers at St. Brides constitute a significant proportion of the estuary-wide total.

Neither of the two species above are mentioned in the Appropriate Assessment for this section of the, newly opened, Wales Coast Path. However, it does identify the likely impacts of the path along this section (disturbance to birds and damage to saltmarsh); and suggest the impacts will undermine the conservation objectives of the Ramsar site/SPA (due to "visitors, including dogs, on coast path and accessing saltmarsh: increased disturbance to roosting waders, and damage to saltmarsh"; it then goes on to suggest seven mitigation measures (re-routing the proposed coast path along the landward side of the sea defences; implementation of a dog control order; restrictions of mechanically propelled vehicles; severe winter weather provisions; appropriate and effective signage for all of the above; legal enforcement of the above as and when required; and implementation and maintenance of mitigation measures by relevant competent authorities, along with monitoring and annual review of their effectiveness).

None of the above mitigation measures have been implemented along this section of the path. There are no signs with regard to the coast path running along the landward side of the sea defences, or the need to control dogs, or outlining restrictions of access for mechanically propelled vehicles (an off-road motorcycle was present on an adjacent stretch of track this morning). As for legal enforcement of the above and monitoring the effectiveness of the mitigation. Don't. Make. Me. Piss myself.

On 15th March 2012 John Griffiths AM (Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development) stated in a letter to William Powell AM (Chair Petition's committee) in response to a petition against the proposed Cardiff to Newport coastal path that "All required mitigation will be implemented".

Of course, now the path has been opened, this begs the question: when? When will someone pull their thumb from their ring-piece and get the mitigation measures implemented? At least get some ineffectual signage in place to give the impression that the relevant competent authority isn't just ignoring its responsibilities vis-à-vis the Birds Directive.

Ooh look! A pretty red one.

1 comment:

Clive Ellis said...

Another balls up so efficiently thought through.The Glam side is already in a fine mess.The wooden gate to the seawall is going keep someone nice and warm.I have walked the path for years and still no sign of a plodman or other enforcement agency making sure the rules are being adhered to.Bang goes the waders again,as if the barrage lessons have become not even a distant memory not learnt.