MADNESS; ...What public think of bid to build on wildlife haven and natural flood barrier.
A BID to build on a wildlife haven has been labelled "pure folly and madness".
Conservation groups, politicians and the council are united in opposition to any move to develop homes and businesses on Y Morfa, Prestatyn.
The landowner, Prestatyn Estates, wants the land redesignated on Denbighshire's LDP (local development plan) to allow "mixed development" on the 15 hectare site - it is currently designated a "recreational site".
The news has been greeted with a mixture of anger and astonishment as Y Morfa is popular with walkers and home to water voles, rare species of birds, such as Sedge and Grasshopper Warblers, as well as flora and fauna like Crack Willow and Yellow Iris.
Vale of Clwyd MP Chris Ruane, who raised a 2,500-signature petition in 2007 calling for Y Morfa to be recognised as a wildlife habitat and sanctuary, is again drumming up local support in the form of a another petition to fight the plan.
He is being backed by the North Wales Wildlife Trust, the watchdog group Envirowatch and Prestatyn Town Council, who have described the area as "the lungs of the town".
Mr Ruane said: "I've had meetings with trustees from the Prestatyn Estate before and told them they should donate the land to the people of Prestatyn in perpetuity.
Following flooding in the town in 2007 and 2008 the Welsh Assembly Government funded a pilot study which found: "Y Morfa is at risk of flooding from Prestatyn Gutter and would be unlikely to be acceptable for development," he added.
Prestatyn Town councillor Sherry Edwards added: "It seems Prestatyn Estates are hellbent on trying to develop this land as this has been an ongoing issue since the early 1990s.
"Y Morfa acts as a sponge for Prestatyn. It's folly and madness to consider this."
North Wales Wildlife Trust conservation officer, Adrian Lloyd Jones, also voiced his opposition. He said: "It's vital in terms of flood prevention. I don't think anyone, other than the developers, are for this."
A spokesman for Prestatyn Estates said: "All the owners have done is to put the land forward as a site for sustainable development."
The land was designated for mixed development in the old Rhuddlan Borough Council unitary plan before it ceased to exist in 1996 but, so is as yet not designated by Denbighshire.
He refused to rule out taking the council to a planning inquiry if the bid failed.
Lungs of the town... Marshland at Y Morfa (main) in Prestatyn is home to many rare bird and plant species; l-r common reed tubular water-dropwort, sedge warbler, snipe