ELDC Councillor - Steve O'Dare Environmental Portfolio Holder *
*At the May 2015 election Mr O’Dare stood down as a District and Town Councillor, relinquishing his role as ELDC Environmental
Portfolio Holder and did not put his name forward for re-election. What a terrible shame this man gave the pretence of protecting
the local environment but in reality badly let down the nature loving residents of Skegness showing a complete lack of respect
and compassion for wildlife and its natural habitat.
I first contacted Councillor Steve O’Dare on 11/11/2014 raising the issue of Buckthorn removal, setting out my concerns in full as they appear on this site.
He replied on 12/11/2014 and at that stage he confirmed that “ELDC are in discussions at the moment with Natural England regarding management works that need to be undertaken. There are also discussions taking place regarding the funding of the works.” he also claimed to “have some knowledge regarding this issue”
I was invited to Skegness Town Hall to examine the plan and did so on 27/11/2014 and I was so disturbed by its contents and the impact on wildlife, that the following day I wrote to the Chief Executive of ELDC to register my complaint and ask for his comments and I finally received a response once he had been prompted by Mark Simmonds MP. The plans had in fact been finalised and an agreement signed with Natural England just a few days before my visit. For Chief Executives response please CLICK
Destabilisation of outer dunes - Natural England
want all the outer dunes to be mobile !
Many residents have been concerned about the destabilisation
of the outer dunes and the effect this may have on our sea
Councillor O'Dare advised me about this particular
aspect on 28/11/2014 "In terms of sea defence, this has been
considered and a flood defence consent has been issued by
the Environment Agency following discussions with English
Nature. I am told there is no increased flood risk resulting
from the work".
Who do you trust?
A number of e-mails were subsequently exchanged with Councillor O’Dare in his capacity as Environmental Portfolio holder and he has claimed to “know the area extremely well” and stated “I fully understand your concerns”
Some of my concerns have been emphasised in these e-mails and appear below but notwithstanding all my warnings of the dire consequences befalling wildlife on the site the District Council have proceeded with the destruction.
“The area to be cleared although sparse in places, still represents a massive quantity from the site, it is not the proportion compared to the overall site you look at but the proportion against existing Buckthorn cover. The intention in fact is to remove almost 100% of Buckthorn from the uppermost strand line to the mature west dunes. Had this been referred to any impartial party you may have understood that bird species favour different habitats and those on the outer and central dunes differ to those on the western dunes where there are trees and they are closer to residential properties.”
“You state that the dunes are to be allowed to recover naturally, but you may find it difficult to convince the electorate that chemical spraying is at all natural! “
“Natural England are the advisors in this instance and not about to undertake the work themselves, it is the District Council entering into a contract to imminently carry out work that is not in the public interest that is my first concern.”
“I understand, in the latter stages of the plan, it was Natural England's dictate that only some 10 acres of Buckthorn (still far too much) be removed but in an effort to keep down their funding, as contractors would already be on site, the amount to be removed was doubled.”
“Your last sentence sums up almost exactly what is wrong and misunderstood about the plan, you state that the intention is to create a more diverse habitat. By removing so much Buckthorn the diversity of the site will in fact be reduced and I have given a general idea of what will be lost by your actions with some specific examples, particularly nesting and visiting birds.”
“Large areas of the outer dunes are naturally clear of Buckthorn and over a three year period further Buckthorn has been sympathetically cleared across the site. Perhaps as you have stated that you “know the area extremely well” you can provide me and your fellow Councillors with a list of what you expect may colonise the site which is not already there in some abundance, I am fascinated to hear.”
Councillor O’Dare represents the electorate of East Lindsey on all matters relating to the environment. No doubt he is delighted that the District Council’s plans have progressed so well and that most of the Buckthorn habitats have been destroyed. I know he would like you to see this specific example of a cleared dune, which you may find difficult to recognise but it is opposite Drake Road.
This dune is where CAZLAC volunteers spent countless hours over a 3 year period carefully cutting the Buckthorn by hand and physically dragging it away. The underlying flora was preserved and was just beginning to flourish with a wide variety of plants.
However nobody bothered to carry out a detailed environmental assessment and the plans were made, sat at a desk from out of date satellite images. It has, as you can see, been totally trashed and all that manual effort wasted.
Does anyone care that this may damage the enthusiasm of volunteers on future projects – of course not it cost the District Council absolutely nothing!
Councillors Steve O’Dare (Environmental Portfolio Holder), Dick Edginton and John Byford attended a site briefing on 20th October 2014 and without any consultation with the public, accepted the proposed plan on residents’ behalf.
All three of these Councillors know the area well, so how could they possibly be so out of touch with the views of Seacroft residents?
What level of public support do they believe they
still have now that the utter devastation of this Nature Reserve can be seen so clearly ?
Who is going to warden this site and manage the off-road activities?