Concerns over birds halt Flintshire coast path plans

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

ROOSTING birds have halted plans for the long-awaited Dee Coastal Path.

Community leaders are furious that environmental groups are holding up plans for the construction of the path across the salt marshes between Oakenholt and Flint.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) have raised concerns about the plans as the area is a popular nesting spot for migrating birds.

Flint councillor Alex Aldridge said: “This has been going on for six years now and it’s the same old tired argument about not disturbing the birds.

“They don’t want any human contact with the birds and it’s just balderdash.

“I have lived in this town all my life and I have seen all types of migrating birds. They lived there when British Steel was in its heyday without any problem.”

A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: “An investigative report was commissioned last year to look at possible options for the All-Wales Coastal Path from Connah's Quay to Oakenholt.

“It was recognised that there are many issues in the area, of which the sensitive habitat and species present on Oakenholt Marsh is just one.

“The RSPB were fully engaged as part of this process, and although they are generally supportive of the coastal path, they are concerned as to the level of impact on this sensitive site.”

Cllr Aldridge has now called for Welsh Assembly Government intervention in an effort to move the project forward.

At a recent Flintshire Council environment and regeneration scrutiny committee meeting he proposed that council bosses meet with the WAG officials to highlight the issue and colleagues backed him unanimously.

Cllr Aldridge added: “It seems we have not got one jot further in finally linking up the coastal footpath in the Oakenholt area.

“This is preventing the population of Flint and further afield from enjoying this link that will go all the way up the coast.

“We are now calling for ministerial intervention on the matter.”

A CCW spokesman said: “The Countryside Council for Wales is working closely with Flintshire County Council to develop the route of the All Wales Coast Path Welsh Assembly project along the Flintshire coast.

“Oakenholt Marsh is, as part of a special area of conservation and a special protected area, the highest form of protection to important wildlife areas available in the UK.

“To help protect this important and valuable area Flintshire Council is currently undertaking an appropriate assessment of a possible route in the area to ensure the best decisions are made for all interests.

“CCW will continue to work closely with the local authority and land owners to establish the best possible route for people and wildlife for the All Wales Coast Path at this location.”

A spokesman for the RSPB added: “The RSPB welcomes the commitment on the part of Flintshire County Council to produce a statutory assessment of the impacts of a coastal path on the internationally-important wildlife resources of the Oakenholt area.

“Previous work by the county council has identified alternatives to a damaging route for a coastal path in this vicinity and we are fully confident that the county council will honour its legal commitments in dealing with this matter.”

See full story in the Leader

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