Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Power Station

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

Wylfa Newydd Nuclear Power Station

Received 09 August 2018
From RSPB Cymru

Representation

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (‘the RSPB’) has engaged with an extensive period of pre-application dialogue with Horizon (‘the Applicant’) with regard to the Wylfa Newydd Development Consent Order (DCO) application (‘the Application’) with a focus on ornithological-related matters. Unfortunately, despite this helpful process, a number of significant matters remain of concern to the RSPB, as outlined in this representation. The RSPB will continue to work with the Applicant to discuss these concerns further and explore ways to resolve them during the DCO Examination.
The Wylfa Newydd Development Area (WNDA) lies adjacent to and partly within the Anglesey Terns/Morwenoliaid Ynys Môn Special Protection Area (‘the SPA’), designated for roseate tern, common tern, Arctic tern and Wales’ only Sandwich tern colony (and one of the largest in the UK). The SPA comprises of three tern colonies, including the colony at Cemlyn Lagoon in close proximity to the WNDA and marine areas extending around the coast of Anglesey including waters within and adjacent to the WNDA. Two further Natura 2000 sites lie in close proximity to the WNDA: Cemlyn Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and North Anglesey Marine/Gogledd Môn Forol candidate SAC.
The WNDA is also within an area of importance for chough, a highly localised Schedule 1 (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended) and Annex I (Council Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds (the Birds Directive)) species of conservation importance in the UK and across Europe. Wales has particular responsibility for the conservation of chough, holding approximately 79% of the UK population (Hayhow, D.B.H., Johnstone, I., Moore, A.S., Mucklow, C., Stratford, A., Šúr, M & Eaton, M.A. 2018. Breeding status of Choughs Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax in UK and Isle of Man in 2014. Manuscript submitted to Bird Study).
The RSPB’s principal areas of concern regarding the potential effects of the Application on these important wildlife features are as follows:
1. Potential impacts on the internationally important tern colony at Cemlyn Lagoon, as a result of construction-related effects and potential longer-term effects due to alterations to the marine environment.
2. Potential impacts on the local chough population, as a result of loss of foraging habitat and recreational disturbance.
Potential impacts on the internationally important tern colony at Cemlyn Lagoon
The Application presents a range of potential impacts to the SPA tern population at Cemlyn Lagoon including acoustic and visual disturbance to breeding, foraging and commuting birds (moving between the Cemlyn Lagoon breeding site and feeding areas) during the 10-year site clearance and construction phase, and potential longer-term impacts on tern foraging dynamics and coastal processes (potentially leading to breaching of the shingle ridge protecting the Cemlyn Lagoon colony) as a result of the proposed marine infrastructure which will remain in place for at least the lifetime of the development.
The severity of these potential impacts and the long-term consequences to the SPA tern populations is extremely difficult to predict, but impacts could range from reduced breeding success in one or more seasons to the permanent collapse of the Cemlyn Lagoon colony and potential knock-on effects on seabird colonies within the wider Irish Sea meta-population (which includes a number of other SPAs).
In order to help inform the Applicant’s proposals to protect and enhance the SPA and other Natura 2000 sites at risk of impact from the Application, the RSPB together with the National Trust (NT) and the North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) (‘the NGOs’) prepared a joint Ecological Options paper which was shared with the Applicant in May 2017. This paper sets out a series of recommended options for avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement of the Natura 2000 sites in response to the likely impacts of the Application. We are pleased that the Application makes reference to some of the NGO-recommended measures aimed at protecting the tern colony at Cemlyn Lagoon, which the Applicant considers will improve the “resilience” of the colony and benefit the management of Cemlyn Lagoon. However, we are deeply concerned that the Applicant does not consider any of the measures necessary as SPA mitigation under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (the Habitats Regulations). Consequently, although broadly referenced in the DCO Application, these critical measures lack any legal certainty, as well as clarity with regards to their scope, duration, funding or indeed their actual delivery.
Given the substantial uncertainties regarding the extent of the potential impacts arising from the Application, the long-term response of the terns to them, and the uncertainty of the effectiveness of the mitigation measures proposed (as well as our concerns about the current lack of legal certainty for those measures), we do not consider that an overall conclusion of no adverse effect on the integrity of the SPA can be reached. We note that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) concurs with this view. The RSPB therefore considers that, subject to the Application meeting the tests of ‘no alternative solutions’ and ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’ (as required under Regulation 64 of the Habitats Regulations 2017), a robust package of compensation measures (including suitable monitoring thereof) will be necessary to ensure that the overall coherence of the Natura 2000 network is protected (including sites forming part of the Irish Sea tern meta-population). In the absence of such a package of compensatory measures, consent for the Application should be refused.
We understand that the Applicant is exploring options for compensation of the Cemlyn Lagoon tern colony, to be put forward in anticipation that the Examining Authority supports the view of NRW and the NGOs that, on the basis of the available evidence, it is not possible to reach a conclusion of no adverse effect on the integrity of the SPA. The RSPB will continue to input on these emerging proposals to help ensure they meet the necessary standards to protect the coherence of the Natura 2000 network.
Potential impacts on the local chough population
There are up to two breeding pairs of chough in the vicinity of the WNDA (one pair have regularly bred at Wylfa Head, within the WNDA), in addition to which the area within and around the WNDA is regularly used by small numbers of foraging non-breeding chough year-round.
The construction of the Temporary Site Campus will result in direct and indirect loss of a key area of chough foraging habitat as a result of the built footprint of the campus and due to the cessation of grazing of any remaining areas of grassland within the campus. The resulting loss of a key food resource could have adverse implications on the breeding performance and productivity of this bird of special conservation interest. Furthermore, there is likely to be additional indirect recreational disturbance to breeding and foraging chough from the inhabitants of the Site Campus, increasing pressure on chough currently relying on this area of the Anglesey Coast.
Although we acknowledge the Applicant’s efforts to assess and mitigate the risks of impact to the chough population, we do not consider that adequate mitigation measures have been secured, including an appropriate long-term grassland management regime as recommended to the Applicant by the RSPB. Therefore, it may not be possible to demonstrate that a sufficient diversity and area of habitat has been secured for this Schedule 1 and Annex I species in this location.
There are two further Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the vicinity of the WNDA: Tre’r Gof SSSI which is within and Cae Gwyn SSSI which abuts the WNDA. The RSPB defers all matters in relation to these sites to NRW, NWWT and NT, including the provision of Ecological Compensation Sites to off-set potential adverse effects on Tre'r Gof SSSI.
The RSPB will wish to comment on the potential direct and indirect ecological effects of the proposed development on the Anglesey Terns/Morwenoliaid Ynys Môn SPA, in particular the Cemlyn Lagoon tern colony. This includes comments on the need for and efficacy of the mitigation and compensation measures we consider necessary.
The RSPB wishes to defer to the technical expertise NRW, NWWT and NT in respect of potential changes to coastal processes and geomorphology as a result of the proposed development.
The RSPB reserves the right to add to/amend its position in the light of any new information submitted by the Applicant or other Interested Parties.