Fury as Natural England decides that an airport is an important area for Brent geese

A COUNCIL leader has described Natural England as a ‘wretched nuisance’ for designating an airport as a site of importance for Brent geese.

By Toby Paine
Friday, 25th March 2022, 3:09 pm

Natural England has classified The Solent Airport at Daedalus as a ‘secondary support area’ for Brent geese and Solent waders.

Fareham Borough Council took over the airfield in 2015. Its leader, Councillor Seán Woodward described the classification as ‘bizarre’.

‘Natural England and their associates raised the sensitivity level of much of Daedalus site without any evidence as we saw it,’ he said.

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Brent Geese Picture: Ian Cameron-Reid

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‘The suggestion being that it is used as a roosting ground for Brent geese.

‘Think about it for a moment - it’s an airport.

‘We’re doing nighttime and daytime counts of birds on the site, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the figure is zero.

Solent Airport Picture: Jason Hawkes

‘It’s a wretched nuisance that these things happen - you could pick all sorts of sites, undisturbed sites and say they’re used by Solent waders but an airport?

‘The last thing we want are bird strikes and if there were any birds on the site we would use Harris hawks and things like the National Grid did when they were building [the IFA2 interconnector].

‘Imagine Heathrow being designated as a site for Solent waders.

‘It’s bizarre isn’t it - in the meantime, we’ve actually bought a piece of land in Titchfield which could be used as a mitigation site.’

Cllr Sean Woodward, the Leader of Fareham Borough Council

A secondary support area is defined as having a maximum count of 100-plus birds for any species.

A Natural England spokesperson said: ‘The decision to make Daedalus Airport a place of importance for birds was an evidence-based decision made by the Steering Group of the Solent Waders and Brent Goose Strategy.

‘The Solent Waders and Brent Goose Strategy is a conservation partnership project, which aims to conserve the internationally important Brent goose and wading bird populations.

‘The site gained its current classification status in 2019. All site classifications are based on evidence including bird survey data which is available via the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre.’

Brent geese spend the winter in the Portsmouth area. Being a protected species, several measures have been introduced recently, including a refuge on Southsea common which the birds did not use.