Lancashire’s rarest moth is under threat, but a semi-retired wildlife lover is determined to ensure it survives.
Graham Dixon is backing a petition via the 38 Degrees online campaigning organisation to help protect the belted beauty, lycia zonaria britannica, classed as Lancashire’s rarest moth.
He is petitioning Government minister Eric Pickles in a bid to prevent the routing of wind-farm cabling through salt marsh south of Heysham, part of the Walney extension offshore windfarm by Dong Energy (UK) Ltd.
Graham, 59, of Hayfield Avenue, Gregson Lane, Preston, said: “The belted beauty is a species on the edge in England and Wales, with just one remaining healthy population.
“The moth has been lost from other sites through development and the construction of coastal defences. In parts of western Scotland and Ireland, where it still survives, it breeds in sandy coastal areas.
“But this population on saltmarsh at Sunderland Point, near Lancaster, is under threat from an offshore wind-farm cabling landfall route.”
Graham is now looking for public support in a bid to ‘remind the Government of the responsibility to promote biodiversity and ensure this rare moth is protected.
The semi-retired BAE Systems engineer, part of the Trouble at’ Mill folk group, is a member of the Lancashire Moth Group, and also involved in butterfly conservation. As part of his voluntary duties, he traps moths most nights in his garden, recording species and forwarding details to a national database, discovering around 370 species.
He said: “There are some wonderfully-coloured moths, and I’ve tracked at least a couple of rare species. While the belted beauty is only found at Sunderland Point, we go up every year to spot them there.”
Graham and his fellow campaigners argue that while the rare moth also occurs in Caernarvonshire and the Wirral, populations are small and declining. At Sunderland Point there was a peak count of 170 individuals in 2012, and the group argues: “In Lancashire the moth was formerly recorded in seven additional coastal 10km squares, but these were all destroyed as a result of coastal development. The population at Sunderland Point appears unique ecologically in that it is found on saltmarsh.”
To sign the petition visit http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-belted-beauty-in-lancashire-1
Paul Childs, communications manager for Dong Energy, said: “Dong Energy has undertaken an environmental impact assessment for the proposed wind farm and is fully aware of the saltmarsh habitat and belted beauty moth.
“The developer has been in communication with Butterfly Conservation, Lancashire Moth Group and Natural England on this issue throughout.
“This has included several site visits to the saltmarsh with the groups, and have changed the way we propose to install the cable, using a more specialist, high-tech method beneath the saltmarsh to avoid impacting the moth population.”
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