Migratory flyways in Britain threatened: RSPB blames 'damage' by coastal projects

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S role as one of the main international staging posts for migratory birds is under threat from piecemeal and 'ill-conceived' coastal development, much of it from barrages and new leisure projects, according to a report published yesterday, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

More than 60 per cent of the country's important bird areas are coastal, yet 'virtually all' are facing damage or deterioration, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said. Each year, Britain loses 0.5 per cent of its estuarine habitat.

The society singles out Britain's 'vitally important position' on the East Atlantic flyway, one of the world's biggest migration routes, which brings birds down from the Arctic circle along the western European seaboard. More than a million and a half waders winter on our coasts - about 40 per cent of the migratory total in north-west Europe.

Yet the flyway is threatened by projects such as the Cardiff Bay barrage, where the Government is about to sanction the destruction of an entire estuarine complex for 'purely cosemtic reasons,' the society says.

It adds: 'It is an act of human arrogance and devastating environmental vandalism that ignores planning policy and international responsibilities for wildlife.'

The report, A Shore Future, says coastal zone planning in Britain is a 'bureaucratic mess' and calls for a national unit to be set up within the Department of the Environment to oversee a national strategy.

Ratty, one of the most enduring of children's literary heroes, is facing extinction, it was claimed today. As many as 94 per cent of water voles - on which the character in Wind in the Willows was based - will have been lost in Britain by the end of the century. The results of a two-year survey published in Country Life magazine say the non-protected species will be almost wiped out, mainly through predation of the mink.

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