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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 07:11 GMT
Dee Estuary wildlife plan worries
Airbus wing transported along Dee Estuary
Airbus wings are taken along the Dee Estuary by barge
Fears have been raised that plans to help protect vulnerable wildlife on the Dee Estuary will have a detrimental impact on the industry which uses it.

The estuary has been earmarked as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by the UK government.

But there are concerns that its new status could mean a restriction on the movement of Airbus wings which are transported along it.

Flintshire's environment scrutiny committee is to discuss the matter.

The council executive has already backed the proposal to make the estuary a SAC but some councillors want to further ensure the needs of industry are taken into account.

We believe the Dee Estuary should be a conservation area but we're trying to find a way of getting the best of both worlds
Councillor Peter Curtis

At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the environment scrutiny committee are expected to push the case for striking a balance between protecting the estuary and protecting jobs.

Councillor Peter Curtis said: "The big concern is whether it will affect the industry around the area. If anything was to hamper Mostyn Docks it would have a devastating effect on Airbus.

"We believe the Dee Estuary should be a conservation area but we're trying to find a way of getting the best of both worlds."

A spokesperson for Airbus UK said the company was aware of the proposal for the estuary.

She said: "Environmental considerations are top of our agenda and part of our business. We monitor our activities to make sure we have as little impact on the environment as possible."

The assembly government and the UK government have backed the plan, which has been forwarded to the European Commission.

The estuary is already a Special Protection Area under the EC Bird Directive, due to its importance offering conservation areas to rare and migratory birds.

The Dee Estuary is the sixth largest estuary in the UK, featuring extensive areas of salt marsh, and providing a habitat for migratory fish.

On low spring tides, most of the estuary dries out, exposing mudflats and sand flats which provide a rich source of food for birds and fish.

The estuary is one of three being considered as a SAC, along with the Severn and Humber.

Hear what the plan would mean for the Dee's birds

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