In 2017, Buglife launched a campaign to save the nationally important wildlife at Tilbury Power Station from proposals to expand the Port of Tilbury, known as Tilbury 2. Nearly 75,000 people signed a petition voicing their concerns about the irreversible impacts on invertebrates, which was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. Sadly, in 2019 the Secretary of State gave the project the green light and the site has now been largely destroyed as the port plans progress.
The former Tilbury Power Station supported a rich mosaic of habitats that have established on the underlying Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA), Lytag and diverse substrates resulting its industrial history. The unique combination of drought stressed grasslands, lichen heath, herb, lichen-rich grasslands and scrub were home to nearly 1,400 species of invertebrate, including 159 species of conservation concern and 31 species identified as rare or threatened. This included the Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum), Brown-banded Carder Bee (Bombus humilis), Sea Aster Mining Bee (Colletes halophilus) and Five-banded Weevil-wasp (Cerceris quinquefasciata).
Buglife had known about the importance of this site for brownfield invertebrates since our ‘All of a Buzz in the Thames Gateway’ project identified the site as of high potential for brownfield invertebrates. The subsequent ‘State of Brownfields in the Thames Gateway’ report in 2013 revealed that in just a six-year period, over half of the wildlife-rich brownfields in the Thames Estuary had been lost or were due to be developed. The devastating decision to permit the redevelopment of the Tilbury Power Station is yet another huge loss to invertebrate biodiversity in the area and threatens the long-term future of the region’s nationally important populations.
The is despite Natural England describing Tilbury Power Station as being “of sufficient quality to meet the designation requirements of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)” and stating publicly that” Natural England will be adding the site to our designations’ pipeline, consistent with the requirements of our designations’ strategy.”
Following the decision, Jamie Robins, Buglife’s Projects Manager, said, “Buglife is disappointed that once again, a site of SSSI quality is going to be lost while Natural England stood by without acting to protect it, like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Unless Natural England step up and fulfil their duty to protect our best wildlife sites, we are going to continue to lose our precious invertebrate species.”