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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 08:47 GMT
Plan to help rare insects
The conservation area site. Used with permission of Buglife (Picture: Roger Taylor)
The site was bought from Safeway by EEDA in 2002
A multi-million pound scheme to transform part of the site of an abandoned oil refinery into a community conservation area, has been unveiled.

The plans would see two-thirds of the 68-acre Northwick Road site in Canvey Island, Essex, home to many rare insects and flowers, turned into a protected wildlife area.

The other third of the site would be developed into offices and workshops with the aim of creating 500 new jobs.

The proposals have been put forward by English Nature and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and are expected to cost many millions of pounds.

The site was bought by EEDA for 1m in 2002 and now it is applying to Castle Point Borough Council for permission to develop one third of the site.

The conservation area site. Used with permission of English Nature (Chris Gibson)
Two-thirds of the site will be a community conservation area

EEDA chief executive David Marlow said: "Our aim with this site is to bring about a sustainable approach to its development, managing the need to bring the site back into use for the benefit of Canvey's economy and that of Thames Gateway South Essex, with the need to preserve this rich source of wildlife."

Greg Smith, English Nature's area manager, said: "We are delighted with this outcome which is good for the local community, good for wildlife and good for the local economy.

"The fantastic wildlife which this area supports will help to enhance the development."

Dr Christopher Gibson, senior conservation officer with English Nature, said the area is home to the Britain's largest remaining population of the Shrill Carder Bee and many other insects, as well as rare orchids.

This is an opportunity to provide a shining example of how humans can work in harmony with their environment
Matt Shardlow, conservation director of Buglife

He said English Nature would be talking to local people about the type of community wildlife scheme they would want to develop on the site.

Dr Gibson said that although an oil refinery was built on the site, it was never used as an oil refinery so the site has not been polluted.

Matt Shardlow, conservation director of wildlife group Buglife, said: "Buglife cautiously welcomes this plan as a step towards bringing the environment up to standard.

"This is an opportunity to provide a shining example of how humans can work in harmony with their environment, and we hope, very much, that short term financial temptations do not result in 'mission drift' and damage to wildlife."

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19 May 03  |  Leicestershire

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