MWT's Ramsey South Beach (RM010) Consultation Response

MWT's Ramsey South Beach (RM010) Consultation Response

Graham Makepeace-Warne

Ramsey South Beach (RM010) has recently been added to the Draft Area Plan for the North and West. Manx Wildlife Trust have responded to the proposal for the zoning of Ramsey South Beach (RM010) for Mixed Use.

Ramsey South Beach (RM010) has recently been added to the Draft Area Plan for the North and West. Manx Wildlife Trust has responded to the proposal for the zoning of Ramsey South Beach (RM010) for Mixed-Use as follows:

Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) do not unilaterally oppose development. Instead, we have a track record of working closely with a number of developers to ensure projects are completed with a minimal impact to the environment. MWT are conscious that the potential for a marina development on Ramsey South Beach is very much in the IOM spotlight. We have studied the current plans and considered the potential impacts such a development may cause. We have also met at length with the potential developers to discuss the proposals to understand the project and the necessary mitigations to reduce the impacts on wildlife and the environment. Based on our discussions/research we have decided to oppose any proposed development on Ramsey South Beach for the following reasons:

1) Ramsey South Beach forms part of a legally-protected Marine Nature Reserve, designated under Section 32 of the Wildlife Act 1990 and recognised internationally under the OSPAR Convention for its habitats of significant ecological importance within the British Isles and North West Atlantic region as a whole. Ramsey Bay was the Island's first Marine Nature Reserve (MNR), highlighting its notable significance to Manx and international wildlife, and it is championed internationally as an exemplar MNR. Any development on Ramsey South Beach and its adjacent waters would have negative ecological implications, and reduce the credibility of the IOM globally.

2) The zoning of a MNR for development would undo all of the protections for important species and habitats contained within the Wildlife Act 1990. Such a course of action would therefore potentially undermine all legally-protected wildlife habitats on the Isle of Man and in our territorial waters.

3) Contrary to the application for zoning of Ramsey South Beach for development within the North & West Area Plan, the area has already been identified as an Area of Ecological Importance under the Plan’s Environmental Constraints by the DEFA Ecosystem Policy team.

4) There is a risk of a detrimental impact on the wider oceanography of the area from any development. There is potential that it may negatively impact nearby seagrass (Zostera marina) meadows immediately adjacent to this site which are critical carbon sinks and protected under international law (OSPAR) and, as a nursery site for many species, providing an important breeding ground for some of our commercial fisheries. The impact would also likely affect the Ramsey Mooragh Shore Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). There is reasonable concern that the development will influence currents and sedimentation movements e.g. longshore drift, in the bay, potentially impacting coastal erosion in the area.

5) Ramsey South Beach is an irreplaceable public open space which is highly valued by the people of Ramsey and the Isle of Man as a place of enjoyment, relaxation, exercise, gathering, stunning views and where they can be closer to nature despite being in the heart of Ramsey. The physical and mental health benefits of such open spaces are now widely accepted.

6) Numerous invasive, non-native species are currently found along the existing stone piers of Ramsey Harbour, including pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Australian barnacle (Austrominius modestus), which could rapidly colonise any new marine development and may cause significant ecological and economic damage, including likely impacts to the fishing industry.

7) Zoning a Biosphere ‘Core Area’ for development would conflict with our UNESCO Biosphere status. In legal terms, this site already has the highest level of protection for its wildlife value available under Manx statute and therefore should be zoned (along with all areas below the high water mark) as ‘Open Space’.

8)  We believe there would be a negative impact on important Manx bird species: Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula), a species which is legally specially-protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act, nest on the pebble beach in the north-western corner of the site. Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) also nest here, a species which is Red-Listed on the Isle of Man as a Bird of Conservation Concern (2021) and listed by the IUCN as 'Near Threatened' with global extinction. Coastal seabirds from Maughold Head and Brooghs ASSI use the area for foraging and feeding young during the breeding period. Given the large declines being seen in many species of seabird, care must be taken not to negatively affect this important feeding area.

We also have wider concerns over the potential for any development on South Beach: increasing the risk of coastal flooding; the carbon footprint of such a development and the increased risk of pollution incidents.

Manx Wildlife Trust remain committed to protecting Manx wildlife for the future and seeing the Isle of Man’s land and waters rich in wildlife, where nature matters to all. Any proposal for development on Ramsey South Beach directly contradicts our vision.

You can submit your own views on the consultation before Friday 19th November 2021 here: Area Plan for the North and West – Sites identified during the Preliminary Publicity Stage - Cabinet Office of the Isle of Man Government - Citizen Space