South Humber mitigation site shortlisted for national award

3:39 pm, Tuesday, 18th February 2020

A UNIQUE project that sees wildlife and industry thriving side-by-side as part of a multi-million-pound South Humber bank growth scheme has been shortlisted for a national planning award.

The South Humber Gateway Mitigation Strategy, one arm of the £42m industrial transformational SHIIP project, has made the final six in the Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment category of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The most prestigious event within the nation’s planning sector, the London awards ceremony in April celebrates the very best examples of planning and structure in society.

For the team at North East Lincolnshire Council and its Regeneration partners at ENGIE the shortlist recognises the significant challenges that were overcome along with working together with specialist bodies to create a unique platform for the protection of important wildlife, as the SHIIP project expands.

In his entry submission, Spatial Planning Manager for North East Lincolnshire, Ian King, says the mitigation project is a ‘shining example of what can be achieved when a true balance of economic social and environmental objectives is pursued’.

Described as ‘ground-breaking’ in its approach, the model has seen planners working with Natural England, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, the Humber Nature Partnership,  the Environment Agency and land owners/developers to create areas of wet and grass lands along the South Humber bank, which is a protected area due to its importance for feeding and wintering birds.

This jewel in the crown of wildlife projects has seen land, called Cress Marsh, ‘set aside’ and purposely developed as ‘mitigation’ ground that can offset industrial development or business expansion – speeding up the planning process for developers.

The Cress Marsh Mitigation site was completed last year, containing a bird hide next to a large central lagoon, which feeds seven more water-filled ‘cells’ via pipework infrastructure.

By invitation local ‘twitchers’ use the bird hide to log the breeds visiting the new site, and recent figures show ten varieties that are in The British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) ‘red’ or ‘critical list’. These include Grey Wagtail, Herring gull, Lapwing, Skylark, Linnet, Ringed plover, Ruff, Yellow Wagtail and Yellowhammer.

Ian added: “The key to the approach was to bring together divergent groups to develop an approach that provided benefits for landowners and developers but also provided optimum benefits for the environmental bodies; effectively a win-win.”

As reported, Cress Marsh and the overall SHIIP programme is set to transform North East Lincolnshire’s industrial fortunes. Taking shape along the South Humber bank the project is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, (HLEP), the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP) and North East Lincolnshire Council, under the management of council regeneration partner ENGIE.

The whole project comprises of Cress Marsh, the creation of a new link road between the ports of Grimsby and Immingham and a new Stallingborough Business Park.

Council regeneration head Cllr John Fenty said of Cress Marsh’s awards shortlist: “This is proof indeed of the innovative approach our teams are taking to support businesses to either develop or expand here. In turn we are recognising the need to look at and protect the natural environment. We have a great team here and this shortlist is well deserved.”