Calls for environmental assessment ahead of development in North Ayrshire.
Conservation charities are urging North Ayrshire Council to ensure that one of the region’s most important wild places is protected from inappropriate development.
RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Buglife Scotland and Butterfly Conservation Scotland and have written to the council to highlight the importance of the natural environment ahead of proposed large-scale development on the peninsula.
The charities are calling for a Strategic Environmental Assessment to be carried out to highlight any negative impacts that new built developments and increased public access could have on Ardeer’s natural environment.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed by North Ayrshire Council and developers NPL Group earlier this year lists a number of potential developments on the peninsula, which could be funded through the Ayrshire Growth Deal.
These include a new road bridge linking Ardeer to Irvine, large-scale leisure and tourism developments, and houses. The agreement also proposes repairing the footbridge that crosses the harbour.
The charities say that without careful planning these developments could damage fragile habitats and lead to increased disturbance to sensitive wildlife. Disappointingly, they say, the Memorandum of Understanding makes no mention of Ardeer’s important natural heritage, or the need to protect its important biodiversity.
More than 1,500 species, including birds, mammals, plants and insects, have been recorded on the peninsula by local naturalists. This rich biodiversity is supported by a variety of sand dune habitats which are among the most important of their kind in Scotland.
Bruce Wilson, public affairs manager at the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Ardeer is home to an impressive range of wildlife which should be celebrated and protected for future generations. Sadly the plans that have been outlined give no indication that its natural importance is even recognised.
“It is vital that the natural environment is taken into account within any plans for development on Ardeer. Undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment is an important step towards identifying the potential impact of any new roads, footpaths and buildings so that any negative effects can be either avoided or at the very least mitigated.”
Toby Wilson, RSPB Scotland’s senior conservation officer, added: “The council must ensure that any future plans for this amazing part of the world are developed in a transparent way, with proper consultation, and a commitment to protect and enhance the area’s wildlife.”