Council working to clear sea buckthorn scrub

Published Friday, 19th November 2021

Hartlepool Borough Council are carrying out work to clear an invasive plant from an area of Hartlepool.

Work is underway to clear sea buckthorn scrub at Seaton Carew’s sand dunes and at Seaton Carew Golf Course, with the cut material being disposed by burning. The work will extend onto the land adjacent to the golf course which is owned by the council.

The area, including land owned by Seaton Carew Golf Club and Hartlepool Borough Council, is part of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast SSSI. As landowners there is a duty of management of the land to preserve its special interest features and Natural England, who has ultimate responsibility, has identified encroachment of invasive sea buckthorn scrub as a significant threat to the biodiversity of the sand dune habitats.

Sea buckthorn was planted at the site in the early part of the 20th century and has since become a threat to the more diverse grassland and other vegetation typical of dune habitats, and the species these support.

Funding has been secured through the Countryside Stewardship scheme by both Hartlepool Borough Council and Seaton Carew Golf Course to undertake the management of the scrub. The method being used to clear the scrub has been agreed with Natural England and has been timed to avoid the bird nesting season.

Tom Stephenson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Ecologist said: “Residents of Hartlepool have been expressing their concerns for wildlife and the wider environment over the clearance of scrub, and particularly the disposal of cut material by burning.

“The level of concern is greatly appreciated and as a council we would like to reassure residents and explain why the work is being carried out.

“The council and Seaton Carew Golf Club have a responsibility as landowners to manage any threat that may occur and with sea buckthorn scrub seen as a significant threat to the biodiversity of the sand dune habitats, we need to act appropriately to clear the scrub.

“We want to reassure residents that while the clearance appears destructive, it is intended to reverse encroachment of scrub into the dunes and is solely for the benefit of biodiversity. How we carry out the work has been agreed with Natural England and we time the work to avoid the bird nesting season. Similarly, the burning of cut material is being timed to coincide with the prevailing south westerly wind so that smoke is carried out to sea.”