The environment, sustainability and ecology are not just buzzwords to us. They are critical components of delivering the vision and purpose of The Seahive.
Local ecology and biodiversity
We are acutely aware that, despite the fact that the site is an old colliery spoil tip, it does currently support a number of habitat types including moderately species-rich grassland and open mosaic habitat which house, in particular, Lizard Orchids and provide foraging opportunities for Turtle Doves amongst other notable bird species, as well as suitable habitat for invertebrates.
It is therefore important to us that we implement a number of mitigation and compensation measures in order to offset any impacts of the scheme and secure an overall biodiversity net gain in excess of 10%.
In terms of Lizard Orchids specifically, we plan to translocate all 800 which would be otherwise impacted, which represents 24% of the total population of Lizard Orchids on the Country Park. It is worth noting that if left alone, over time, these plants and other areas of open mosaic habitat and grassland would be vulnerable due to the natural succession to scrub. Many are already showing signs of degradation.
This ecologically-led management of large areas of the park will also create and secure new foraging habitats for bird species, including Turtle Doves, in the long term.
In addition to funding an ecological warden for the Country Park, a Visitor Management Plan will be implemented to direct and focus recreational activity away from more sensitive ecological areas. The plan will set out the measures to manage the impacts of increased visitor numbers, including the routing of footpaths, interpretation and signage, landscaped boundary features, together with a schedule for ongoing monitoring of visitor activity to ensure that existing and new nesting and foraging opportunities for Turtle Doves and other species are protected.
As well as Lizard Orchid translocation, the ecology enhancement works will translocate substrate from existing Open Mosaic Habitat and grassland areas to be reused on new green roofs and landscaped areas within the development and to establish new enhanced areas within the wider Country Park with plant species that will assist new populations of invertebrates
We believe that our plans, which would be implemented and managed by ecological experts, with translocation carried out under a licence from Natural England, will not only protect these species in the long-run but actually accelerate their growth, which has been relatively slow due to other habitats establishing following closure of the colliery.
In addition, to offset the loss of moderately species-rich grassland and open mosaic habitat within the site, new areas of habitat will be created or enhanced. Large areas of open mosaic habitat and grassland are present within the country park currently, but not subject to any specific ecological management. As a result, some areas are becoming degraded due to lack of ecological management and succession to scrub.
It is believed that substantial benefits could be delivered by implementing an ecologically led management regime. This would allow for restoration or enhancement of existing habitat areas and secure their ecological value in the long-term.
Creating changemakers of the future
As 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater once said;
“When a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time."
As a team of surfers, adventurers and mountain-lovers, we have witnessed first-hand some of the devastating climate-related impacts on the natural world whilst on trips and snowboarding adventures in the high mountains in the form of melting glaciers, shifting tree lines and dangerous rockfalls, all of which endangers wildlife and their associated ecosystems. Likewise in the ocean whilst on surf trips in various parts of the world, we have unfortunately seen some of the horrendous collateral damage caused by climate-related factors, plastic pollution and sewage.
As part of our educational objectives, we will run courses and programmes to encourage young people to get away from their devices and reconnect with the great outdoors. Surfing is of course one of the ways they can do this, but we also plan to create green spaces as part of the overall landscaping design including herbal corridors, medicinal gardens and fruit forests. Places where kids can get their hands dirty whilst helping to support and reignite local biodiversity.
Leveraging some of the philosophy from the Green School movement, from where our Founder Jim has recently returned having educated his kids there for the last 18 months, these courses will be primarily aimed at young people from the local communities.
We will strive to get more children to experience the joy and wonder of nature. To feel its empowerment and enrichment. This, we believe, will create an unrelenting desire for them to do what they can to protect it. The next generation are the future change makers. They are the innovators and collaborators who must join together to protect our planet in the years to come, when we are long gone.
Construction and operational sustainability
Embedding planet power into decision-making is ingrained into the fabric of our DNA - from site design to materials selection, operational processes, energy sources, waste management, water treatment, planting schemes, commercial partnerships and many more.
We will strive to be carbon neutral from the start, via the use of sustainable energy to power 100% of our waves, using energy-efficient (and, as far as possible, recycled) materials in construction, implementing a closed-loop circular consumption cycle with organic waste composted on site to nourish gardens which will then harvest fresh produce for the kitchen, minimising waste, ensuring we work with local partners to both support their businesses and reduce food miles, alongside many more initiatives.
The selection of our wave generating technology partners, Wavegarden, has been heavily influenced by their sustainability credentials
Not only is Wavegarden the most commercially and operationally proven surf technology on the planet, with six sites open around the world, but it is also the most efficient technology in terms of energy consumption.
Wavegarden Cove, Praia da Grama, Brazil
In addition, their water treatment and filtration process is sustainably-led, using primarily fine filtration and ozone & UV disinfection. There is a small amount of chlorine but they are working on figuring out ways to eliminate this altogether.
We are also exploring ways to not only optimise our own carbon footprint but also that of The Seahive community via encouraging them to use environmentally-friendly forms of transport, as much as possible, to get to and from our site.
The closest bus stops are a 15-minute walk from the site, 1.3km away, and there have been additional bus stops approved just to the north and south of the A258 Sandwich / Betteshanger roundabout access junction. The nearest railway station is Deal, which is 4.7km away from the site with connections to St Pancras International (1 hour 12 minutes), London Charing Cross (2 hours 12 minutes), Ramsgate (21 minutes), Dover (16 minutes) and many others. The nearest bus stop is 180m walk from the station.
As part of our environmental and sustainability strategy, we are exploring options to set up commercial partnerships to potentially put in bike racks at the station and at our site to encourage and enable more people to cycle and, in the process, reduce carbon emissions.