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Weedkiller fears for wildlife on Canvey
10:00am Tuesday 24th July 2012 in News
CONCERNS have been raised for rare wildlife in Canvey after weedkiller was sprayed on land adjacent to a nature reserve.
The Housing Community Association has been criticised for spraying chemicals to kill off hundreds of plants and insects on an area of land it owns, off Northwick Road.
The land lies on the border of Canvey Wick, a site of Special Scientific Interest and home to hundreds of species of rare insects, including the brown banded carder bee, the five banded weevil wasp and the Canvey ground beetle.
There are fears the chemicals could have a bad affect on wildlife at the haven, particularly if they get into the marshes which are a source of water for insects and birds. The 20-acre patch of land near the reserve has been designated for future industrial use, but a company has yet to come forward to redevelop the site.
Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “Three weeks ago this land was a flowering meadow full of birds, bees, butterflies and dragon flies. Now it’s completely brown and dead because they’ve just come along and sprayed the whole land, killing everything.
“When you are doing something of this magnitude next to a site of scientific interest, it could have such a bad effect on the wildlife there. The chemical could get sprayed on the reserve, or it could get in the water ways and poison the birds and insects that way. It’s disgraceful this was allowed to happen.
“It could take another ten years to find a developer, so why kill off all the plants and insects now?”
Mr Blackwell has written to Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to take the matter further.
A spokesman from the Housing Community Association said: “We have consulted with our ecologists and been assured the spraying in question is totally safe and does not pose any danger to any wildlife.”
Dr Sarah Henshall, from Buglife, the conservation trust which helps manage the nature reserve, said: “The land in question has longstanding planning permission for a business park and the site is periodically cleared of vegetation to prevent wildlife moving in. “We believe on this occasion the Housing Community Association left it too long between site clearance, allowing wildflowers to become established.”
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