Councillor Alex Gallagher refused to read out his written answer to a question asked in the North Ayrshire Council meeting on 19/09/18. The part he refused to read out included a statement where he said that there will be “No Infringement to the SSSI” from the proposed developments at Hunterston PARC. We believe this to be factually incorrect! There has been lots of different types of ‘infringement’, which we highlight as an ongoing ‘Manifest breach of EIA Legislation‘. We present clear evidence below that the development will in-fact spatially infringe the SSSI.
The information below indicates that NAC planners have neglected to inform themselves of the real NAC planning jurisdiction boundaries to or seaward limit of the SSSI site. Instead they seem to be relying on developers documents, incorrect baseline datum, out of date GIS shapefiles and failing to comprehend that dynamic maritime boundaries actually change over time. Our group has visited and examined the boundary of the SSSI three times in last two months. We will now instruct an independent professional surveyor and invite the national media to visit, witness our survey and contemplate the environmental impacts and infringement to the SSSI.
- The North Ayrshire Council’s area of planning jurisdiction coincides with the seaward limit administrative boundary. In Scotland this is accepted by the Scottish Law Commission as the Mean Low Water Spring (MLWS) tide level. The seaward limit of marine SSSI’s also coincides with local authorities jurisdiction boundary, which the Joint Nature Conservation Committee accepts is the Mean Low Water Spring tide level and provided for in the Nature Conservation Act 2004 legislation.
- The sea level indicated on the NAC planning drawings, although written as MLWS, actually corresponds to Ordnance Survey Mean Low Water (MLW) levels. This peculiarity is evident on some of the planning documents which reference Ordnance Datum, yet have ‘MLWS’ written beside the lines drawn on the location plan drawings. We believe this is an error and ‘MLWS’ has been incorrectly added to the drawings submitted to NAC planning.
- Fairlie Coastal have surveyed the area of SSSI and the Mean Low Water Spring tide level and found it to be very different from the level offered on the NAC planning and site drawings. In the photograph below you can see the group standing at the edge of the tide next to the hammerhead quay. The metadata from this photograph indicates it was taken on 15/08/18 at exactly 10:00am BST. We are able to precisely calculate tide levels and are extremely confident that the group are standing next to the real MLWS tide level.
- The graph below shows the predicted and recorded tidal curves measured at the National Tidal & Sea Level Facility tidal gauge located at Keppel Pier on Cumbrae. There is little difference in tidal heights and time between Keppel Pier and Southannan SSSI. We have drawn a line on the graph to highlight the time (10am) and corresponding height of tide of 0.4 metres above chart datum. The calculated level of MLWS at Southannan SSSI is known to be exactly 0.44 meters above chart datum. The group are therefore standing within 4cm of the tide level that should be used as a jurisdictional boundary by North Ayrshire Council and as the seaward boundary for the Site of Scientific and Special Interest.
- Please compare the Google Earth picture below that has proposed dredge area indicated by white lines. We have used GIS to locate the position of the group on the Google earth map. Remember, in the photograph above we are standing at the real level of MLWS (Mean Low Water Springs) which means that we are standing on SSSI ground and within the NAC administrative and planning area.
- We have visited this location during periods of different wind, weather and atmospheric conditions and results remain consistent. We have also indicated this anomaly to the chairperson of the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership and to various SNH Officers. Cllr Alex Gallacher and the head of legal services Andrew Fraser were both informed about these findings at a recent Participatory Planning meeting but remain complacent and dismiss our concerns.
- This evidence is contrary to Cllr Alex Gallagher’s written statement and assertion, that he refused to verbalise in full council meeting, that there will be no infringement on the SSSI. It is clear to anyone that actually visits the location, when the tide is at MLWS level, that the development activity is on and will directly impact the SSSI. We challenge all our elected councillors and NAC planners to visit the site with us and use their eyes instead of ticking boxes and pushing bits of paper around. It is incredulous for NAC to take planning decisions without an adequate baseline survey or without anyone actually visiting the SSSI.
- These findings indicate that development works for the hammerhead quay will be conducted above the MLWS level and within the planning area for NAC. Due to project salami slicing this part of the development has been bounced off to Marine Scotland for considering under marine works license when it should also have been considered to have a terrestrial NAC planning jurisdiction component.
- Cllr Gallchaer insists that planning process has been “robust” and there will be “no infringement of the SSSI”. However, all planners in Scotland, as part of their training, should be made aware of the discrepancies in sea level baseline datums and that the Scottish Courts and case law support that Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS) is used as the jurisdictional boundary when considering terrestrial and marine planning issues.
- There is little doubt that the development will directly effect and infringe the SSSI which will be will heavily impacted by dredging, pier development and future operational activities. Our concerns are continually dismissed but will continue to argue that there is a systemic and Manifest Breach of EIA Legislation.
- The Southannan Sands SSSI is notified for its sand flat features and designated under Nature Conservation Scotland Act (2004). It is protected by law and North Ayrshire Council will be committing an offence for any person to intentionally or recklessly damage the sand flat features. And under the same act, it is the duty of every public body or office-holder, in exercising any function, to further the conservation of biodiversity