The Green Industrial Revolution’s natural home is on Teesside - Mike Hill MP

The record breaking temperatures recently certainly helped boost visitor numbers to Seaton Carew beach, but it wasn’t day trippers and holidaymakers who helped put the place on the map; it was visitors of the feathered variety.

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st August 2019, 10:00 am
The Saltholme Pools Hide at RSPB Saltholme.

Legally protected Little Terns have migrated to Seaton from West Africa; in fact an entire colony of them have moved here. Usually the birds roost at Crimdon Dene just up the coast and I remember walking past the fenced off sanctuary, watched round the clock by RSPB staff from a hut, on the Tommy to Tommy walk in support of the Heugh Battery, but it looks like things have taken a turn for the worst for the Dene as the birds clearly prefer Seaton. By August they will be on their travels again back to Africa and it will be interesting to see if they return next year.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds runs the award winning Saltholme Nature Reserve just over our border in Billingham. Their expertise and success in managing the reserve has not only protected a multitude of species and made the place the successful visitor attraction it is today, but it also helps focus the mind on just what nature has to offer on our own doorstep.

Indeed, it’s not just RSPB Saltholme that helps make Hartlepool and the Durham coastline a unique place for wildlife, flora and fauna, nor is it the amazing Seal Sands reserve on the Coast Road, beautifully redeveloped by the Environment Agency as a result of much needed flood prevention works, it’s the fact that whole swathes of our coastline has been designated as being Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

SSSI’s are designated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They have statutory protection and the local Council has a duty to take reasonable steps to further their conservation and enhancement. More importantly all SSSI’s are deemed to be of national importance and as such are designated as Special Protection Areas of Conservation. The areas identified by Natural England which are wholly or partly within Hartlepool are: Hart Bog, Tees and Hartlepool Foreshore and Wetlands, the Submerged Forest at Seaton, Seaton Dunes and Common, Seal Sands, Cowpen Marsh and the Durham coast itself. Good to know that the expertise developed at Saltholme has led to the RSPB winning the contract to manage and oversee the protection and management of such important natural areas in Hartlepool and good to know that we are surrounded by such an abundance of nationally significant habitats. Anybody who visits the Town will tell you how attractive the place is, but this just makes it a whole lot better.

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It also shows just how important our environment and our eco system is on the East Coast. It is a precious but delicate asset and we need to look after it if we have any hope of averting the climate disaster that faces us. That is why I am proud to support not only the work of climate change groups and activists but the emergence of a new ‘Infant Hercules’ on Teesside; the Green Industrial Revolution’s natural home is here.