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Ecological Impact Assessment, Morecambe Bay SPA and Barrow-in-Furness

Client: Port Meridian Energy Ltd
Duration: April - November 2012
Project: Achieving planning permission through Ecological Impact Assessment for off-shore gas pipeline and on-shore installation
Project manager: Jennie Caddick
Project team: Gordon Haycock, Emma Thomas, Krysia Mazik (Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies), GIS Technician
Outputs: Planning Permission granted following survey undertaken, Ecological Impact Assessment update, liaison with Planning Authority and Statutory Agencies.

Background - Port Meridian Energy Ltd are developing a deepwater port capable of docking ocean going vessels carrying liquid gas. Mooring at the deepwater terminal, gas will then be delivered to the National Grid via a subsea pipeline which makes landfall on Walney Island, crosses Piel Channel (the main shipping lane into Barrow Port) and then to an Above Ground Installation just south of Barrow. Planning Permission was first granted in 2009, however, in order to keep the permission live, it was necessary to update the Ecological Impact Assessment and make an application to the local planning authority.

Ecological Surveys - Haycock and Jay Associates was commissioned to undertake Phase 1 habitat survey, reptile, great crested newt, badger and water vole surveys for the on-shore site. For the off-shore element we formed a partnership with Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (IECS) in Hull who undertook sub-tidal survey using divers and hovercraft for sensitive benthic communities, stony reefs and brittlestar beds, eelgrass beds and soft sediment biotopes.

Ecological Impact Assessment - Using the data gathered from our surveys and from desk study information, Haycock and Jay Associates ensured a comprehensive assessment meeting the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management standard. Assessment addressed new legislation which had came into force since 2009, and our foresight and attention to detailed ensured that the survey data was adequate and assessment robust.

Achieving Planning Permission - negotiation was necessary both with the Planning Authority and Natural England Marine Team to ensure that all parties were satisfied that all ecological impacts had been fully assessed, and effects on the internationally designated site of Morecambe Bay considered. Our impact assessment was acknowledged as being thorough and professional with the submission of additional detailed 'Method Statements in Principle' to Natural England, outlining proposed mitigation for sensitive habitats, allowing the project smooth passage through the planning process. Consequently, planning permission was approved in November 2012. The project is due to be operational in 2014.