Kenneth and Dierdre Hicks said they are devastated over having to leave 60-acre Harbour Farm in Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight, and being denied the chance to pass it on to their three sons because of an EU Special Protection Area (SPA) law. The couple contends that the rights of birds is being put about the rights of humans.
The couple’s ordeal began when the RSPB, England’s largest nature conservation charity, asked the Environment Agency (EA), which manages Britain’s waterways, to allow increased flooding from the nearby Eastern Yar river to encourage more breeding sites for rare species.
Under the plan, raised water levels will flood the farm and surrounding areas to create breeding grounds for wildfowl that includes brent geese, widgeons, shovellers, lapwings, and redshanks.
The saga has been ongoing. In October 1998, the land was designated part of an EU Special Protection Area. Immediately afterwards, the Hicks family sold 420 acres of the farm to the RSPB to help comply with EU regulations. Kenneth Hicks said he is surprised about the new plan that will flood their remaining land after being so accommodating from the start.
The RSPB said the SPA was operating non-optimally and raising water levels on its land thereby flooding the adjacent farm was the “final piece in the jigsaw.”
The RSPB maintains that its role is the management and restoration of our own part of this potentially exceptional wildlife site.