Controversial enclosure for brent geese in Southsea to be moved this winter

A CONTROVERSIAL enclosure for migratory birds will not be set up on Southsea Common again this winter.

By Fiona Callingham
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 1:38 pm

Castle Field, along the seafront, was closed to the public between October last year and March in order to set up a safe space after sea defence works occupied an area usually used by returning Brent geese. The birds, however, chose not to use it.

However, this year a section of Southsea’s Ministry of Defence land, near Clarence Pier, will be repurposed as a haven for the birds.

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Castle Field will remain open all year round following a negotiated decision by Southsea Coastal Scheme officers and Natural England to use Southsea's MoD field as a new bird refuge for overwintering Brent Geese.

It comes after a case was made to Natural England to relocate the sanctuary to ‘balance the needs of the community’ with the protection of the birds.

Cabinet member for planning policy at Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Hugh Mason, said: ‘This is a great example of working co-operatively to find a solution that is acceptable to the public and meets the legal requirements of Natural England to provide an area for the internationally-protected Brent geese.

‘The MoD Field is currently fenced off as part of the Southsea Coastal Scheme site, which means minimal disruption will be caused by separating this additional area for the birds.’

As reported, the site on Castle Field was rarely used by the Brent geese despite the placement of decoy geese – with the birds frequently spotted in other areas such as the Tenth Hole golf course.

Pictured: Southsea Costal engineering team setting up the fake geese at Castle Field in October 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Most of the MoD field is already fenced off for use as a materials processing compound for the Southsea Coastal Scheme, and an additional area within this site will be sectioned off for the refuge.

The impact of the scheme's site works on the birds will also be mitigated through the addition of visual and acoustic screening to the fence between the refuge and the compound area.

This area of the MoD field will be fenced off over winter until the completion of the Southsea Coastal Scheme in 2026.

Monitoring will be undertaken at regular intervals to understand how the geese are using the site. This information will be shared with Natural England.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme will run from Long Curtain Moat in Southsea to Eastney, protecting around 10,000 homes from rising sea levels.

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