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« Illiberalism breeds illiberalism (again) | Main | The missing right? »

Toxic waste is good for birds

Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth fame has one of his usual "whip up a scare" stories on Comment is Free today. The latest impending disaster is the decision of nPower to dump ash from one of its coal-burning power stations into some lakes in Oxfordshire.

Some years ago, RWE npower started to fill in the lakes with PVA [Ash], killing the wildlife and transforming a thriving ecosystem to a polluted wasteland. I saw this progressive strangulation of nature take place as I passed by on the train on journeys between Oxford and London. The lakes gradually disappeared to be replaced by toxic deserts dotted with a few hardy weeds.

Only a couple of the original dozen or so lakes now remain. One of them, Thrupp Lake, is set soon to suffer the same fate as the others, as RWE npower pipes in its waste from Didcot. The terns, the otters and everything will disappear from there, and not only will the land around Oxford have less wildlife, but people will also have been robbed of a source of inspiration as well.

Some years ago, my wife and I used to visit Musselburgh Lagoons for the birdwatching. The lagoons were something of a legend among twitchers because of the way rare species that were often seen there. Everyone who went knew exactly where the lagoons came from - they were formed and then filled in with the ash from Cockenzie Power station which is just adjacent to the site.

There's an web page about the lagoons here. And here are some excerpts from it:

lagoons2.gifTypical numbers [of birds] roosting in midwinter are:- 1600 Oystercatcher; 150 Curlew; 900 Bar-tailed Godwit; 400 Redshank; 2000 Knot; 2000 Dunlin; 80 Turnstone; 30 Ringed Plover; and the occasional Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Purple Sandpiper. Most of these roost at the lagoons...

Many gulls roost at the lagoons, with about 100 Great Black-backed Gulls and sometimes thousands of Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls present.

The Ringed Plover breed on the old shore-line in the west and central lagoons and, despite the human disturbance of the area, 2 or 3 pairs succeed in raising a few young each year. The only other species that breed in the lagoons are Skylark, Shelduck and Wheatears, which bred for the first time in 1975.

The list of passage migrant species that visit is amazing too, and is far too long to list here. All in all, the situation at Musselburgh doesn't sound very similar to the eco-catastrophe Mr Juniper is predicting does it?  Perhaps he's mistaken?

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