Photo: A Wheatear in the urban jungle of Pomona
James Walsh (Manchester Ship Canal World Heritage Group)
When BBC superstars such as David Attenborough or Kate Humble visit MediaCity I’m certain that they would love to take a look at Pomona Docks, just a ten minute walk around The Quays from the BBC’s headquarters, such is the amount of wildlife that can be seen, it is known amongst those who know as an ecologists paradise
Indeed, it is David Attenborough who recently gave a talk requesting politicians and business people to give nature a helping hand – perhaps Manchester City Council and Peel could take note of this ?
When I read this recent MEN article http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/intimidating-wasteland-around-cornbrook-metrolink-7700835, my first thought was “intimidating”? Are they talking about the Pomona Docks that I know and love, the old Guinness docks, an area named after a Roman Goddess, Pomona, the goddess of fruiting plants, the place that I know as the most peaceful and serene place near to Manchester City Centre, a place where people trek from their urban lives to connect with nature, a place where ecologists have recorded 100 bird species and over 150 flora species, a place where I have had so many amazing wildlife experiences
I am certain that there are many people local to the site that share my amazement at the article, birdwatchers, fishermen, dog-walkers, photographers, botanists, artists, joggers and ramblers all enjoy this area of urban countryside, that could with some imagination and investment be made into a Manchester Wetlands Centre/Manchester Eden Project
The phrase “plans are set to be agreed” in the article strikes as a blatant show of a lack of democracy !! When were the people asked about this ? There appears to have been no public consultation ? The article also gives no impression of the heritage value of the site – it is the last area of the old docks that has not been concreted over, so much of the heritage of the working docks has been lost over the years, as well as breeding habitat for Skylarks, Lapwings, Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers, species that find a last vestige of land at the old Pomona docks
The seasons abound at Pomona, in the Winter Snipe, Woodcock & Jack Snipe feed in the marshy areas, in Spring Wheatears pass through on migration from their African wintering grounds to breeding grounds in the hills, around 50 pairs of Sand Martins nest in the old dock walls, in Summer huge shoals of Bream congregate in the Manchester Ship Canal and flowers bloom, including the rare Bee Orchid, attracting bees and butterflies, and in Autumn thousands of birds migrate through the area, some stopping around to take advantage of the many ripe blackberries, whilst mammals can be seen at any time of the year – Otters, Foxes, Voles and Roe Deer have all been reported in the Pomona area
As a site for Bee Orchids it is one of only a handful of sites within Greater Manchester where these rare orchids have been recorded and ecologists suggest that this area should easily qualify as a Site of Biological Importance
This situation – the Council and Peel wanting to concrete over an area of such unique ecological and heritage value – springs up many questions, some of the big questions are
1/ Why is this area not being used as part of the Manchester City Council Biodiversity Project ?
2/ If the plans for development do go ahead, how much of the area is to be given to conservation, for a nature reserve and how can full mitigation be achieved for such a large area of heritage value & wildlife habitat ?
3/ Why is the last big area of Salford Docklands greenspace remaining being concreted over for yet more flats ? Where is the vision at the Councils of Trafford, Salford and Manchester ?
4/ As the area was once a public pleasure gardens, up to the 1880’s (when industry claimed the area), for the benefit of the people of the Manchester area, could the area be returned to the people ?