Don’t go there! Save wildlife at Tipner West

Don’t go there! Save wildlife at Tipner West

3,500 Houses proposed to be built
27 Hectares of protected intertidal habitat
3 Hectares of protected land
24,000 Petition signatories

#DontGoThere 

Location: Tipner West, Portsmouth 

Key issue: Proposals to build 3,500 houses will ‘reclaim’ and concrete over 67 acres of protected intertidal habitat as well as 7 acres of protected land. If plans go ahead, they will set a dangerous precedent for building over protected habitats nationwide. 

 

Site designations: SSSI, SPA, Ramsar Site 

Key species impacted: Brent Geese  Dunlin  Black-tailed godwit  Bass 

 

Respond to the Local Plan consultation to oppose the 'super-peninsula' development at Tipner West.

 

Take action

Timeline

  • March 2018 

We responded to Portsmouth City Council’s Tipner Strategic Development Area Consultation expressing our strongest objection to the reclamation of part of Portsmouth Harbour SSSI, SPA and Ramsar site. 

  • November 2020  

We launched our public campaign and petition to tell Portsmouth City Council #dontgothere 

  • March 2021

20,000 people signed our petition telling Portsmouth City Council #DontGoThere

  • May 2021

Portsmouth Labour party councillors include scrapping the super-peninsula as a key manifesto point for the local elections. 

  • September - October 2021

Portsmouth City Council's local plan consultation is launching which includes the destructive super-peninsula proposals. The RSPB and HIWWT have created an easy to use platform to respond to the consultation.

 

FAQs

Why shouldn’t they build houses at Tipner West? 

Portsmouth City Council plans to develop one of the last wild corners of Portsmouth Harbour in to a ‘super-peninsula’ with 3,500 houses by draining and concreting over mudflats protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar Site in recognition of the value for wildlife. 

The super-peninsula would: 

  •  Destroy mudflats that fight the climate crisis by capturing as much carbon per year as 262 tree saplings grown for 10 years. 

  • Devastate habitats that support 30% of UK’s dark-bellied brent geese, as well as dunlin and black‐tailed godwits and many other wintering waders. 

  • Concrete and build over 30ha of legally protected mudflats, home to diverse populations of fish, invertebrates, and micro-organisms. 

  • Set a dangerous precedent which could allow the destruction of other legally protected sites to build houses.     

  • Eliminate precious natural assets that protect Portsmouth from erosion and provide natural carbon storage and filtration.  

If the site is protected for nature, how can they build on it?  

27 hectares (the size of 50 football pitches) of mudflats and 3ha of grassland are legally protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site in recognition of its importance for wildlife.  

Normally, protected sites, like the mudflats and grassland at Tipner, cannot be damaged or destroyed. However, Portsmouth City Council can ask for permission from the government to bypass the restrictions on sites protected for nature, where there are exceptional circumstances. To do this, they must be able to prove that there are no feasible alternative solutions that would be less damaging and that there are “imperative reasons of overriding public interest” (IROPI) for the proposal to go ahead.  

To our knowledge, a successful case has never been made in England to allow housing to be built directly on such a heavily protected site for nature. Therefore, this development could set an extremely dangerous precedent for building over protected sites nationally! If an area with the highest level of protection for wildlife can be destroyed and built upon, nowhere will be safe for nature anymore. 

What is a Local Plan and why does it matter for Tipner West? 

Local Plans are where the big decisions on planning for the future of communities and land are made. This includes deciding the future of cities, towns and villages, where new development should be built and which areas should be protected from development or enhanced for nature. 

This means that Local Plans are where you can have the most influence over shaping the future of your local area. Once the Local Plan is created and adopted, many of the big decisions have usually been made, and your influence becomes more limited.  

If the super-peninsula plans for Tipner West are included in the final adopted Local Plan, it makes it much harder for us to challenge the proposals later on as the council will commit to delivering it to reach their government-agreed housing targets. 

This is why we need to make our voices heard and make it clear that we strongly oppose the super-peninsula and any option that damages wildlife on the site during the Local Plan consultation. 

If they don’t go ahead with the proposals for Tipner, how will they meet their government-agreed housing targets? 

We are concerned that Portsmouth City Council are using the housing target as a threat for why the super-peninsula must be built, or else the residents must find space for the remaining 2,700 homes.  

The Government has advised that its standard method for calculating housing need is only a ‘starting point’ and that councils should take environmental constraints and other factors into account before determining the number of homes that can be delivered. It is clear that Portsmouth Council is unable to deliver the proposed 17,000 houses without causing serious and irreversible harm to protected wildlife sites. 

Given Portsmouth’s position as the UK’s only island city, the most densely populated city outside of London, and a city that is surrounded by protected wildlife sites and already lacking sufficient green spaces to support its residents, the Council has a strong case to make to the Government for reducing its housing targets.   

Why are mudflats important for wildlife? 

The food produced by mudflats goes directly to feeding the many wading and other bird species which rely on them, either when they are overwintering and trying to build enough energy to complete their annual migrations in spring, or during the spring and summer breeding seasons when there are chicks to be fed. When the tide is in, the mudflats provide food for many other fish and invertebrate species that move in to forage across them, including sea bass. 

They also play a vital role in storing carbon and excessive nutrients which can reduce water quality and lead to harmful blooms of algae. As the mudflats build up, they bury organic material deeper and deeper in the mud, where there is little or no oxygen, and it becomes preserved and locked away. This carbon sequestration function makes mudflats highly efficient carbon sinks, helping us in our battle against climate change. Every year, the mudflats at Tipner absorb the same amount of carbon every year as 262 tree seedlings grown for ten years! 

And there’s more. Many of the bacteria and algae growing on mudflats are also involved in denitrification (reducing nitrates) and processing excessive organic material, including sewage and nitrate fertilisers from agricultural runoff, helping to improve the water quality in our estuaries and the wider Solent. 

Isn't this a car-free, ‘sustainable’ development?  

The scheme has been put forward as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for the city, said to create a revolutionary, car free environment (although the cars will just be hidden in underground parking located below sea level). But the reality is that the development would destroy 67 acres (around the size of 50 football pitches) of protected intertidal habitats which support many species and help in our fight against the climate crisis.   

The climate emergency and threat of ecological collapse must surely demand a different approach to development. It’s just not good enough to keep squeezing nature until there’s nowhere for it to go. Our cities will quickly become un-inhabitable for both wildlife and people. We need to re-think sustainable development at a local and national level. Instead of trashing our precious natural assets, we should be protecting and strengthening a Nature Recovery Network across our counties and our country. 

Get in touch

Want to get in touch with us about this campaign? Contact Feedback@hiwwt.org.uk 

Arial shot of tipner

Overview

Portsmouth City Council plans to develop one of the last wild corners of Portsmouth Harbour in to a ‘super-peninsula’ by draining and concreting over protected intertidal habitat, then build 3,500 new houses and a new 1million sq ft marine hub on a reclaimed coastal floodplain. This special area is already protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar Site in recognition of the value for wildlife. 

We’ve joined forces with the RSPB to highlight the damage to nature and the loss of green spaces for local people of these damaging proposals. We need your backing to stop this scheme from going any further. 

Black-tailed godwit

John Windust

Why is it important to protect Tipner West?

This development poses one of the most significant threats to wildlife in recent times. Tipner West is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar Site in recognition of the value for wildlife. This development would destroy 67 acres (around the size of 50 football pitches) of protected intertidal habitat which fights the climate crisis by capturing and storing carbon dioxide, and is home to diverse populations of fish, invertebrates, and micro-organisms. This area supports 30% of the UK’s population of dark‐bellied brent geese, as well as dunlin and black‐tailed godwits and many other wintering waders. 

We are also very concerned that if approved, this development will set a dangerous precedent for building over protected habitats across the UK. If an area with the highest level of protection for wildlife can be destroyed and built upon, nowhere will be safe for nature anymore. 

Trust staff with binoculars

© Paul Gonella

What are we doing?

We’ve joined forces with the RSPB to highlight the damage to nature and the loss of green spaces for local people of these damaging proposals. We are demanding that Portsmouth City Council recognises the inherent value of wild spaces to support nature’s recovery and enhance the wellbeing of the local people through access to the limited green spaces that we have left.  

 Instead of the proposal, we are calling for Tipner West to remain protected for wildlife and safeguarded as much needed greenspace for the city’s residents to enjoy. 

How can you help?

We campaign for nature, people and the special places where you live. But we can't do it without your help and continued support.

In September, Portsmouth City Council launched their Local Plan consultation, which includes options for the 'super-peninsula' at Tipner West. Local Plans are where the big decisions on planning for the future of communities and land are made. Once a development is included in a Local Plan, it makes it much harder for us to challenge the proposals later on, as the council will commit to delivering it to reach their government-set housing targets.

Therefore, we are now asking you to help us save wildlife at Tipner West by responding to the Local Plan, with our easy-to-use template through our online platform. 

Add your voice

Can you help?

Your support is so vital. Making a donation could enable us to continue to challenge decisions like this
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