As well as a number of homes at Hasty Lane, several important habitats are either scheduled for destruction or likely to be badly affected by expansion plans. These include the Cotteril Clough area of irreplaceable ancient woodland that is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Grade C Site of Biological Importance (SBI), and part of the steeply wooded Sun Bank Wood that is a Grade A SBI. [i]
The proposed airport development would drastically alter the landscape in the area affecting the survival of these woods. As well as the destruction of habitats like this, development can separate and isolate populations of a species; this interrupts the natural movement of animals and reduces their genetic diversity, harming their chances of survival.
Attempts by developers to offset the damage they cause are no substitute for leaving existing natural environments untouched. The areas earmarked for development should be protected by Green Belt status, but the airport seems determined to have this status removed to clear the way for development:
‘It is proposed that parts of the existing and proposed Operational Area be removed from the Green Belt to allow for the anticipated expansion of the Airport, to remove uncertainty and delay, and to create a clear and defensible long-term boundary.’[ii]
In May last year, there was a ‘Biodiversity walk’ where residents and campaigners teamed up to see firsthand some of the natural beauty still thriving in the shadow of the airport.
Campaigners visited an ancient pond which is home to a population of great crested newts, an endangered species found only in North-West of England. Hasty Lane resident Holly Johnson said, “You cannot replace 400 year old ancient woodlands by planting some new trees down the road. That’s not how biodiversity works.”
Biodiversity enthusiast Alison Hunt said, “I never realised what historic and untouched corners of countryside still exist around the Ringway airport boundaries- ancient woodland and hedgerows, historic cottages and farms, tranquil fields and ponds. These hidden gems are now all threatened by the Airport’s expansion plans to become the ‘Heathrow of the North’.”
[i] Source: Manchester’s Core Strategy, Manchester Airport Issues Paper, Refining Options Consultation, April 2009 page 8
[ii] As above.