CALLS have been made for “urgent” investigations over alleged disruption to a “unique wildlife habitat’” on a tiny island in the Menai Strait.

County and community councillors, and residents have expressed concerns over work to rebuild a wooden walkway linking a Glyn Garth luxury house with the island also called Ynys Y Big.

The private island, a designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB with the rest of the Menai Strait, has Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI status. It is home to oyster catchers, egrets, herons and other marine birds.

Flintshire business woman Paula Jewson was granted permission to rebuild the walkway, which had fallen into neglect, despite recent objections.

Residents however claim the work has disrupted bird habitats and allege developers have cut down trees on the island. They also say the beach on the Anglesey shore has been “churned up” by work vehicles accessing the site.

Cllr Carwyn Jones said: “There was strong objection for this application locally on the grounds of concern for an area of outstanding natural beauty and protected site of special scientific interest. There is very rare wildlife on Ynys Y Big and is of grave importance.

“I was concerned to hear reports that trees may have been cut down and especially during the nesting season and that concerns as to the impact of the work is having on wildlife at that part of the Menai Strait.

"I have asked the officers to raise these with Natural Resources Wales to investigate.”

John Griffiths, Cwm Cadnant community councillor, said: “We wanted to stop the developers, the Jewsons, from rebuilding the walkway. It rotted, away about 30 years ago. Ynys Y Big is a special habitat for roosting birds like oyster catchers.

“As a community councillor, but also an environmentalist, I’m concerned for the natural habit of local birds and marine wildlife.

"I have very deep concerns for what is happening. The community council voted against the walkway application on environmental grounds, but it went ahead. As a community council we could only make observations.

“We also did not support a recent application by the Jewsons to rebuild the house, which was turned down. I urge local residents to contact their councillors about this issue.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “Ynys y Big is an island of extraordinary natural beauty.

“I have seen little egrets sitting in the trees, and oyster catchers on the island and around its shores at different times of the tide, as well curlews, red shanks, herons and cormorants.

“What some people would see as ‘tidying up and making safe’ would, in my opinion be the destruction of a unique habitat.”

Anther resident said: “There was a lot of local opposition to the building of the walkway. Due to the work on the walkway oyster catchers have gone from here as have egrets and herons. Once disturbed on this scale they will not return for quite some time.”

A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Wales said:

“A big part of our job is making sure projects throughout Wales are carried out with as little damage to the natural environment as possible, which is why we consider every licence or permit application very carefully.

“The licence that allows the ongoing construction work over part of the Menai Strait went through procedures that made sure it complied with legislation. We also found that there would be no significant effect on any designated site.

“While NRW are a statutory consultee in the planning process, the Local Planning Authority are the ones tasked with enforcing the planning conditions of the project.

“We received a complaint about tree felling practices earlier this year but found nothing to be out of the ordinary after one of our officers visited the site. No further evidence has been submitted to NRW about this since then.”

Huw Jones, Team Leader for Natural Resources Wales said: “We have issued a marine licence and given permission for work in a Site of Special Scientific Interest so that work to replace the footbridge to Ynys Big near Menai Bridge can go ahead.

“The old wooden footbridge needed replacing so that access to the island can continue.

“We will monitor the work to ensure it is done in accordance with the marine licence and SSSI permission to avoid impacting the natural environment.”

The Ynys Y Big project manager made the following statement: 

"The timber walkway used to access Ynys y Big had fallen into disrepair after 50 years of use.

"Our Clients cherish the site and wanted to restore it to use. It was an eyesore.

"Donbass Limited have worked closely with the regulating bodies and have agreed a process to replace it which takes account of the breeding times and roosting time of the birds. We are following this process very tightly.

"Planning Permission was granted. A Marine License was issued. Works are being carried out completely as set out in the permissions.

"The site has been active for three weeks and during this period we have enjoyed visits from Wales Natural Resources and The Welsh Government Fisheries and Marine body.

"The meetings were detailed and thorough and the officers left satisfied with us. No birds are breeding at present and there are ample high tide roosts for the waders in the area.

"The walkway is built from Welsh Larch felled and milled in Wales, delivered by Welsh carriers and is being built largely by Welsh people.

"For more information please use"

Paula Jewson was approached by The Chronicle for comment but was unavailable.