Outpouring of love for Suffolk reserve wins it national award
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
A world famous Suffolk nature reserve which believes it is under threat from plans for a new nuclear power station has won a top accolade from Britain’s birdwatchers.
RSPB Minsmere has been voted Site of the Year in the Birdwatch Magazine/Birders' Choice Awards for 2019.
The reserve, home to more than 5,000 species, was awarded the honour because of its vast range of rare and unusual habitats and birds, including marsh harrier and bittern.
The news comes despite the worries over potential detrimental environmental impacts of the proposed new Sizewell C project, which will border the flagship nature reserve.
RSPB officers are delighted with the award.
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Adam Rowlands, the RSPB's Suffolk area manager, said: "The outpour of love for the reserve has been phenomenal this past year.
"We want to thank everyone that voted for us and thank those who are supporting our Love Minsmere campaign.
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"We have been overwhelmed by the love for Minsmere.
"The RSPB does not believe that Sizewell is a suitable position for a new nuclear power station. As highlighted in the Government's National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6), Sizewell C could have detrimental impacts on internationally and nationally important landscapes, habitats and species of the Suffolk coast and at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve.
"But the huge amount of support for the site gives us hope that we will see the best possible outcome for the environment and nature at RSPB Minsmere and beyond."
Last year saw the first nesting little terns in 10 years at Minsmere, the most productive year for nesting Sandwich terns since 1977 on the reserve, and the first ground nesting kittiwakes ever in Suffolk. Avocets - the bird on the RSPB's logo - also continue to thrive after breeding in the UK for the first time at RSPB Minsmere following an absence of more than 100 years.
Rebecca Armstrong, Bird Watch Editor, said :"We run our Birders' Choice Awards run every year in the November issue of Birdwatch. We put together a shortlist for various categories and our readers vote for their preferred option.
"The winners are announced in the following January issue, and for Site of the Year, RSPB Minsmere was the obvious favourite, given its popularity and the home it provides for a vast range of rare and unusual habitats and birds.
"It was much loved as the previous base for Springwatch and the #LoveMinsmere campaign demonstrated the public support for the future of this site. Hopefully this recognition, as Site of the Year, will help to ensure that Minsmere is properly protected against the proposed nuclear developments."
The RSPB's Love Minsmere campaign saw over 20,000 people write to EDF to tell them why they Love Minsmere and why it must be protected.
More than 1,000 people also gathered on Minsmere's Whin Hill, site of the BBC Springwatch studio, and one of the reserve's most amazing viewpoints with the Sizewell Estate in the background. They formed the outline of the Love Minsmere love heart, sending a visual message to EDF that the reserve must be protected.
EDF Energy intends to submit its final plans for Sizewell C in the next few months. It has said it is continuing to work closely with a wide variety of organisations and stakeholders on the project.