Castle Field will remain open all year round following a negotiated decision by Southsea Coastal Scheme officers and Natural England to use Southsea’s MoD field as a new bird refuge for overwintering Brent Geese.
A case was made to Natural England to relocate the winter refuge in order to balance the needs of the community with the protection of the Brent Geese.
Most of the MoD field is already fenced off for use as a materials processing compound for the Southsea Coastal Scheme, and an additional area within this site will be fenced off as a bird refuge.
The impact of the Scheme’s site works on the birds will also be mitigated through the addition of visual and acoustic screening to the fence between the refuge and the compound area.
Cabinet Member for Planning Policy and City Development, Councillor Hugh Mason said:
“This is a great example of working cooperatively to find a solution that is acceptable to the public and meets the legal requirements of Natural England to provide an area for the internationally-protected Brent Geese.
“The MoD Field is currently fenced off as part of the Southsea Coastal Scheme site, which means minimal disruption will be caused by separating this additional area for the birds.”
This area of the MoD field will be fenced off over winter until the completion of the Southsea Coastal Scheme in 2026.
Monitoring will be undertaken at regular intervals to understand how the geese are using the site. This information will be shared with Natural England.
Brent Geese are often seen around Southsea during winter months when they migrate from Siberia to feed and roost. A very small number were seen using Castle Field during winter 2020-21.
The Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK’s largest ever local authority-led coastal defences’ project and will help to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 10,000 homes and 700 businesses. The Scheme is led by Portsmouth City Council.