Video: Firm burns masses of sea buckthorn on the saltmarsh in Cleethorpes
A FIRE burnt brightly on the Cleethorpes Coast last night, as masses of plants went up in flames following an aggressive removal scheme on the saltmarsh – despite the heavy snowfall.
North East Lincolnshire Council hired Creative Nature UK Ltd to remove a 500m stretch of sea buckthorn, 3m to 20m wide, between the sewage treatment works and the end of the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway line.
Yesterday, the company removed the final patch at about mid-day and burned the masses of sea buckthorn in a huge fire at about 8pm, while winds were blowing offshore, after the Environment Agency granted special permission – despite the weather.
Managing director Ben Burgess said: "We had a big mass of it and while the snow fell on the top, it stayed dry underneath so we were fine for the fire to go ahead."
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Mr Burgess notified the police and fire service before setting the fire, which he said is the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to dispose of the plants.
"Usually we would try and convert plants to biomass to fuel things like power stations but to transport, dry, shred, and treat all this waste would take so much diesel that it would negate any advantages to the environment," he said.
The removal forms part of the Cleethorpes Habitat Management Plan – which responds to public concerns over the effect that a growing saltmarsh could have on the resort – adopted in January 2011, following agreement with Natural England.
Jason Longhurst, head of development services at NELC, said: "This year we have the opportunity to remove more of the sea buckthorn than originally planned, using a controlled and contained burn to dispose of what is removed."
The saltmarsh is a Natural England Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and contains many rare species of birds, animals, insects and plants because of the high levels of salt.
The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has already contracted Creative Nature UK Ltd to remove large stretches of the sea buckweed from nearby coastlines and has even employed inventive methods, such as grazing sheep and cattle on the shores to control the plant.
Sea Buckthorn provides a nesting area for birds in the spring. However, it smothers other plant life, taking over large areas and threatening the biodiversity of the area. Recently, it was discovered that the sea buckthorn bushes were not dense enough to provide adequate shelter for other animals to live there, because smaller plants, such as grasses, had ceased to grow there.
Creative Nature UK Ltd has now removed the plants but left the roots in, which will allow it to grow back – at a rate of up to 4ft a year – but other plants will grow amongst it, providing a better habitat for wildlife.
Mr Burgess added: "A lot of people think that the best way to handle a wildlife reserve is to just leave it alone, but this is not the case.
"If left unchecked, sea buckthorn can totally take over so it is good news that the council is taking positive action."
Councillor Mick Burnett, NELC's portfolio holder for tourism and culture, said: "The buckthorn has long blocked the view of the estuary for those who come to the area for recreation and enjoyment, so this work will bring a real and noticeable difference."