Green oasis to be created for wildlife under Yorkshire Energy Park proposals

A new wildlife area will provide an additional home for protected birds in a quiet grass and wetland habitat under plans for the proposed £200 million Yorkshire Energy Park.

An 89-hectare site has been secured in the Sunk Island area of Holderness to create a dedicated wetland habitat to support some of the Humber’s most precious and protected birds including Curlew, Goldern Plover and Lapwing. It will provide an additional habitat for the birds that currently visit the former Hedon Aerodrome site, which is proposed for development.

Plans also include improving and protecting part of their current habitat by dedicating 50% of the Aerodrome site to the east as part of the Yorkshire Energy Park proposals.

The consortium behind the Yorkshire Energy Park has been working with industry experts, Statutory bodies and interested parties for several years to put robust plans in place, to provide and protect suitable habitat for the wildlife.

The announcement comes as Natural England, the public body that ensures the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for present and future generations confirmed they have formally withdrawn their objection to the proposed scheme. In a letter on East Riding of Yorkshire’s planning portal, the organisation stated:

“Natural England is satisfied that the specific issues we have raised in previous correspondence relating to the development have been resolved. We therefore consider that the identified impacts on the Humber Estuary can be appropriately mitigated with measures secured via planning conditions or obligations as advised and withdraw our objection.”

Claire Harrison, Project Director for Yorkshire Energy Park said:

“We want to make sure all of the measures we’re proposing are as considered as they can be, including the proposals for the wildlife on the site to protect our internationally important natural environment

“Working alongside organisations such as Natural England and taking on board community views, we’ve adapted the masterplan to leave around half a mile of open space (45 hectares) for wildlife. The development itself is only 50% of the whole site and this is adjacent to the West, which is a preexisting industrial area.”

“This open space will be enhanced to create an improved habitat for protected species, and importantly, this area will be protected for 150 years, meaning the scheme cannot encroach towards Preston South and Hedon in the future.”

Ponds and wetland areas will be created on the site, along with bat boxes. The west of the site will include sympathetic landscaping designed to attract insects to benefit the local bat population, while places for newts to hibernate and breed will be created, and grass snakes will also benefit from the improvements.

A nature walk has also been included in the energy park plans, planted with native trees and flowers which benefit insects and bats.

Ms Harrison continued: “Alongside the measures on the Hedon Aerodrome site, we’re now progressing plans to create the wetland habitat at the Thorn Marsh site, as an additional home for the birds. A planning application for this has been submitted and we’ve been working closely with Natural England on these proposals.

“We will also involve local schools and the community in designing and installing ecological features, which can be developed into a wider education programme linked to green energy and protection of the environment.”

The Hedon Aerodrome site proposed for the development of Yorkshire Energy Park is the only available area on the north bank of the Humber where a presence of a significant connection to the National Grid exists, alongside a piped natural fuel supply already on the site.

Due to this unique set up, reliable energy can be provided to businesses on the Park at significantly less than markets rates. This has led to the development attracting multi-national and national brand names including E.ON, Asanti Data Centres, Dell, SSE, leading battery manufacturer BYD, and infrastructure funder Legal & General, as well as the backing of Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the region’s biggest business body, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and Hull College Group.

Yorkshire Energy Park will be a critical employment site in the Humber, creating up to 4480 jobs across a range of sectors. East Riding of Yorkshire Council will also benefit from £3.5m of business rates per year, once the Park is fully operational.

If planning permission is granted by East Riding of Yorkshire’s Council’s Planning Committee, the energy park will include an energy centre, data centre and disaster recovery suite, space for established and start-up businesses, education, training and research facilities alongside associated short-stay accommodation, an outdoor building materials and testing facility, and sports facilities for the community.

The Yorkshire Energy Park is being proposed by locally-based Sewell Group, Hessle-based communications company MS3 Networks and development company Chiltern Group.

The scheme is expected to be determined by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee within months.