Millions of pounds is being spent relocating birds from the site of a proposed marine energy park.
The £450 million Able UK project on the south bank of the Humber at Killingholme, is subject to an ecological compensation scheme costing the developers around £60 million.
Marcus Walker, head of planning and regeneration at North Lincolnshire Council, told the council’s corporate scrutiny panel that Able, which is building the energy park, had worked hard to overcome objections from Natural England, the RSPB and English Heritage through a compensation scheme which included creating a permanent habitat for the birds on the opposite bank of the Humber.
Mr Walker said: “Able are leading the way with the ecological compensation scheme.”
The site is one of the best in the UK for black-tailed godwits, a large wading bird which feeds on the mudflats in the Humber estuary and it is estimated 4,000 of them feed there.
Mr Walker said part of the compensation scheme included recreating the right type of mud on the north bank of the Humber with the cost working out at £7,900 per bird.
However, Tim Melling, senior conservation officer for RSPB said Able “could not have picked a worse site for their energy park”.
He said: “They have chosen to build this new energy park on the most important feeding ground for black-tailed godwits and now we have to recreate it. The birds feed on the mud there because it is rich in worms and invertebrates.
“Even if they recreate the gloopy mud there’s no guarantee that the invertebrates will even be the same on the other side of the bank.
“It’s a risk and there’s no guarantee that it will work.
“It is so expensive for them because of the process they have to go through to recreate the mudflat. It’s called a regulated tidal exchange and involves creating lagoons to control when the tide goes in and out. It needs people to manage it.”
Neil Etherington, group development director at Able, said it had spent £60 million on the ecological compensation scheme and mitigation.
He said: “We are aware we have responsibilities with respect to these habitats. It is very expensive but we have no option and we are complying with the EU habitat regulations.”
The £450 million offshore wind energy manufacturing facility has benefited from a £100 million investment from the government and is set to create thousands of jobs.
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