Scottish Government agency NatureScot say they are still considering making the Ardeer Peninsula a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

They issued a statement after we revealed last week that trees had been felled and scrubland removed by owners NPL at the former ICI industrial site.

The NPL Group signed a deal in 2019 with North Ayrshire Council to regenerate the peninsula, which is a haven for rare wildlife. 

But two years ago, the Ardeer Action Group sent a letter to NatureScot, co signed by five environmental groups, calling for the Garnock Estuary site to be urgently designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The area is described as a "unique mosaic of dunes, grassland, woodlands, scrub and wetlands", and although it has been modified by the site’s complex industrial past, it remains an "incomparable haven for wildlife", including species that have been lost across much of the landscape.

NatureScot said they were "actively considering" the request and were looking at balancing the various business, development and eco groups involved in the area.

A spokesperson for NatureScot said today: "We are actively considering the request from the Ardeer Action Group to designate parts of the Garnock estuary, including Ardeer peninsula, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"SSSI designation requires a strong scientific evidence base and evaluation against the SSSI guidelines.

"If the evidence is not sufficiently robust, there is a high likelihood that the notification of the site would be challenged.

"Our role is to evaluate the available data and come to an evidence-based decision on designation."

They added: "This is an extremely complex site where we hope to balance several different interests, including businesses, developers, local community groups, NGOs and recreational users.

"We are working with all parties to find the best ways to protect and manage biodiversity interests, while at the same time accommodating some sustainable development at this location.

"We are also considering whether SSSI designation is appropriate and would be the best way to safeguard nature on the site as well as achieve other benefits.

"We continue to work with North Ayrshire Council on how best to secure and enhance the biodiversity value of the site and provide public access, including through their Local Development Plan process."

NPL have yet to respond to our request for a comment on the recent tree felling, although North Ayrshire Council confirmed no planning permission had been required.