Dec 19 2013 by Sophie McCoid, Ormskirk Advertiser
PLANS for a new wildlife marshland at Hesketh Bank have been put on hold after a heated debate between councillors at a meeting of the West Lancs planning committee last Thursday.
The proposals involve creating 154 hectares of estuarine wetland habitat by breaching the embankment at four locations.
There would be nine lagoons created to provide wader feeding habitat and the existing inner embankment between Hesketh Out Marsh East and Hesketh New Marsh would be improved to act as a primary line of flood defence. The new embankment would measure 7.8m in height
An extension to the car park area and a new bird hide were also proposed with developers wanting to start work in spring 2014.
At the planning meeting however, the application was fiercely debated as councillors complained that the application had been brought before them too early.
There are major objections to the plans from the MoD, Blackpool Airport and Wharton Aerodrome who fear the wetland will have a significant impact on aviation safety as there's an increase of bird strike on aircraft.
There are fears that the River Douglas will have increased sediment, causing navigation problems.
Cllr Hodgson said: “I support the thrust of this plan but I have serious concerns about the impact on the River Douglas and the businesses that rely on it.
“The proposed legal arrangement that ensures the river will be dredged and maintained by the Environment Agency needs to be robust enough.”
Cllr Blaine said: “The Environment Agency have given us cast iron promises before and then gone back on them. I believe the plans as they stand are based on assumptions and I’m not willing to allow a plan through that has been based on assumptions. We need more finalised plans before I’m willing to delegate this decision to officers; the impact on the community will be significant.”
Plans will now go back before councillors in February after further discussions.