Future of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

The long-term management and future of a 116 acre nature reserve will be resolved if North Somerset Council agrees to take over the ownership of the site.

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve in Portishead was created by North Somerset Council to provide a green buffer between the port and the Ashlands housing development and is a popular recreational and wildlife area.

The council has a longstanding legal agreement with developers Persimmon about the future ownership of the land and is currently considering adopting the land. The most important consideration in this is to ensure this important decision enables the site to remain protected from future development, with access available and wildlife able to flourish.

The site was previously managed by Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) until the end of 2015 and is now being maintained by North Somerset Council who are using their contractors, Glendale, to carry out maintenance tasks. This work is being funded by Persimmon until the future ownership and management of the reserve is resolved.

If the council does adopt the site, it will be funded with reserves held by Port Marine Management Limited (PMML).

The council is following AWT’s management plan to look after the site and it will cost around £40,000 every year for the council to do this which will represent a saving on previous management costs.

Cllr David Pasley, the council’s executive member for asset management, said: “We appreciate people’s frustration about how long it has taken to get to this point. As a council, we routinely adopt land from developers, but before doing so we must be sure that all matters are in order first. In this case we uncovered some significant issues about PMML which had to be resolved. In carrying out this due diligence it became clear that the site faced an uncertain future because of a lack of accountability of the levy collector and potential new landowner to residents. Faced with such serious threats to the protection of the reserve it was inevitable that the council would have to consider adopting the land itself.”

The final decision over the possible adoption of the site will be made by Cllr Pasley. The decision document has been published on the council’s website today at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/decisions. Anyone wanting to comment on the decision has five days to do so, and comments can be sent to pwnr.comments@n-somerset.gov.uk.

The decision regarding the transfer of the levy funding will also have to be approved by the PMML members.

Update Thursday 5 May

Cllr David Pasley, North Somerset Council’s executive member who will make a decision on the report on the future management of Portbury Wharf nature reserve, has extended the time for people to comment on the proposals.

“I have decided to extend the period for comments until the end of next week, giving people an extra two days to comment if they wish,” said Cllr Pasley.

The report can be found on the council’s website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/decisions and comments can be sent to pwnr.comments@n-somerset.gov.uk