The European Diploma for Protected Areas has been granted since 1965 and is a very prestigious international award issued by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The award is given in recognition of areas considered to be of exceptional importance for Europe in order to preserve biological, geological, and landscape diversity that have been managed in an exemplary way. Minsmere is one of only five sites in the United Kingdom to have received the award.
Five sites in the UK
The other areas in the UK that have received the award include the Peak District National Park, Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, Purbeck Heritage Coast and Fair Isle National Scenic Area. According to the Council of Europe, Minsmere is considered to be the UK’s most important bird reserve. The European Diploma is not a perpetual award and the sites that have received the award continue to be monitored and are subject to regular renewal. Minsmere has had its diploma renewed on four occasions since 1979.
The Council of Europe is concerned
In a report issued in June last year Minsmere an expert from the Council of Europe highlighted that the council was worried by the uncertain information in relation to the environmental impact of the prospect of a third reactor at the Sizewell nuclear power plant. For that reason, the most recent renewal for Minswere had a condition attached to it. Adam Rowlands a spokesperson for the RSPB says the caveat highlights how important it is for EDF Energy to provide detailed information on the expected impact of the new reactor at Sizewell.
Mr Rowlands says the conditions that have been attached to the draft renewal this year have been designed to send a clear signal. That the value to biodiversity and nature attached to Minsemere should not be taken for granted and depends on how we it is looked after. If EDF cannot make sure there any adverse impacts from Sizewell cannot be mitigated adequately the ability to ensure Minsmere remains valuable for nature at its present high level may become compromised. RSPB says it has no intention of allowing that to happen. EDF says it is consulting with the RSPB and claims it will take into consideration any feedback before they publish their final plan.