|Prof Fitter - "need for better facilities"|
Prof Fitter CBE, FRS is the son of the late Richard (R.S.R) Fitter, an ornithologist and botanist, who wrote many authoritative and popular books on nature and wildlife.
In his submission to East Riding Council's planning department, the former York University professor writes: "The current arrangements for visitors are unsatisfactory, both in terms of their comfort and convenience and in terms of the disturbance to wildlife.
"The need for better facilities is demonstrable.
"The Trust has carefully considered alternatives and has clearly shown that the current proposals are optimal.
"If the proposal is approved, the reserve will be capable of managing, informing and ecouraging more visitors without causing damage or disturbance with highly beneficial effects for the local economy in an area where job creation is a high priority."
* Prof Fitter is a serving member of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's board of trustees.
Below is a selection of some of the comments of others who have contributed to the debate.
Prof Andrew Hanby (Harrogate):Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on this re-application for a new visitor centre on a flood plain in an environmentally sensitive area of a national treasure. Whilst it may not be wholly germane to the nuts and bolts of the application, it is important to see this in the light of campaign of at the very least 'spun' information by a powerful organisation. Examples of this would include the comments by a well known lobbyist professor for the YWT making unsubstantiated comments of a pejorative kind about visiting birdwatchers and the conduct of a wholly unprofessional survey characterised by leading questions and answering participants who are also employees of YWT. This eagerness to submit a practically identical application to the previous, itself arguably a gross abuse of process, also has to be seen in the fiscal imperative the YWT have for this centre at this location. It appears, and I have not seen a convincing argument to the contrary, that this point of the location is to control all access and extract monies by monopolising all car parking for at least ¾ mile from the current entrance. There is no conservation purpose I can see, merely the creation of a cash cow. Indeed the eagerness to take grants to put up large numbers of barbed wire fences, deleterious to birdlife, is evidence of the triumph of money over conservation. The application has caused a lot of bad feeling both amongst nearly all the locals who live in Kilnsea, many in Easington and amongst conservation enthusiasts throughout the country. Consultation at the most has taken a dictatorial form at best and there has been no effort to take into account the justified concerns of the locals, who have felt at best patronized and worst insulted by elements of senior YWT management. The specific and important practical issue s I think with regards to the application are 1) the proposed building on an area that has seen severe flooding 2) The destruction of a key wildlife area 3) the cynical approach that YWT has apparently taken in all aspects of the application which undermine the whole credibility of the application. I am not against the creation of an interpretative centre or, indeed the concept that the YWT needs to generate funds, however the current proposal does not strike the right balance and calls into question the underlying priorities.
* Andrew Hanby is professor of breast cancer pathology at the University of Leeds
Elaine Reeve (Grimsby): Spurn is too fragile an area for another visitor centre. It needs to be protected and treasured for what it is. A wild place for the birds and the birders who love it as it is.
Torkel Larsen (Withernsea): I regularly visit Spurn Point with my family. It's a wonderful place to visit, but sadly lacking in facilities. I fully support the erection of a new visitor centre.
Reuben Mew (Woodlesford, Leeds): The proposed visitor centre will be a blight on the landscape. Use the existing buildings to their fullest potential. I was there last weekend and there are plently of empty affordable buildings that could be used. Whilst visiting I stood on the river bank adjacent to the proposed development. Most of the winter thrushes coming in off the sea dive into the bushes and trees at this location. If the development is allowed to go ahead, then this habitat will be lost. The application has been rejected once, how can the YWT be allowed to keep on submitting the plans.
Matthew Smith (Birmingham):I object to this application as I feel it's the wrong location for a new visitor centre. I feel with so much vocal opposition from those that live closest to the site it will not generate the numbers of visitors expected. Leaving visitors with a much more negative view of such a wonderful sight than if it was built somewhere else where pposition would be more muted.
Colleen Watts (Whitchurch): I object to the planning application for a new visitor centre on land that would be detrimental to the wildlife and attraction of the Spurn Heritage Coast. An area that has outstanding biodiversity and that which offers visitors from all over the country a unique experience that in this day and age is truly wild. I am not a local resident but visit on a regular basis and if this application is approved I will not visit again. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has stated in its additional information on this application that in considering alternative locations that it is not prepared to build a structure on land that is used by birds or other important wildlife. This statement enforces the reason that this current application must be refused. Keep spurn wild and wonderful, not a money making experience.
Nina O'Hanlon (Chester): As with the previous application I completely object based on the grounds that the erection of the visitor centre, at the location selected, will impact habitat shown to be important for migrant birds, as well as being liable to flooding.
Richard Clarke (Hessle): I don't agree with the visitors centre being built in that area as it will disrupt the wildlife. There is an existing building that could be used.
Helen Adams (Crowle): I would like to strongly object to this application on the grounds of flood risk and visual impact. Despite both of these issues being the reasons given for refusal in the last application there has been no discernible changes made to address these important matters. I suspect that with the fixation (obsession) being on siting the new centre in Triangle Field then the design challenge to deal with these issues is proving impossible. Move the location to an existing building or away from wildlife-rich habitat and then I suspect some progress will be made plus they will get my vote to support the scheme. I am also struggling to understand the financial viability of this project when the income and expenditure show a breakeven situation at best. In five years' time when the visitor numbers have not met expectations then the centre will probably only be able to open two or three days a week at best which will lead to staff cuts which will then lead to full closure. This will then have all been a complete waste of time and money. Please listen to the hundreds of people who are objecting to this scheme and refuse the application and then instruct the YWT to bring a mediator on board to find an amicable solution without wasting any more money from the public purse.
Michael Wilkinson (Barnsley): The siting of the proposed visitor centre is totally inappropriate as it is in an area of high flood risk. The area is already highly sensitive and any further development will only degrade a fragile environment further to the detriment of all flora and fauna. There are alternative sites further north on the peninsula which, if developed, would not have the same negative impact upon the area as a whole.
Daniel Gornall (Liverpool): The position of this new visitor centre is in a ridiculous place. It will destroy habitat used by thousands of migratory birds as well as being situated in a flood zone.
Joanne Hood (Flamborough): The site is in an area at risk of extreme flooding. This area was engulfed by water in the 2013 tidal surge. To position a visitor centre in this location appears both foolhardy and dangerous which contradicts YWT's declaration that a visitor centre is required to ensure visitor safety. Whilst I can see an improved visitor centre could be a benefit to the area, the proposed location is in an area of importance to both breeding and migrant birds with many wading birds roosting here. To build here would destroy vital habitat, this is surely the opposite of what a conservation charity should be doing. As the YWT already has the Bluebell cafe at Kilnsea, why can this building and surrounding area not be used? It has a significantly reduced flood risk, existing infrastructure and would not entail destroying precious habitat. This application has already been refused once and has been resubmitted with no changes made. There has been no consideration taken by YWT for local residents, the local fishermen nor regular visitors to the area
Paul Bradley (Settle): It is very concerning that the previous application for a broadly similar development, gained such a large number of objections. It is especially concerning that the majority of local residents and interests objected to the previous development. In view of the national and international wildlife importance of this site, the sustained objection of the bird observatory must be a matter of particularly significant concern. The current application would need to have fully addressed the substantive reasons for previous objections. Unfortunately however, this does not appear to be the case. I understand the bird observatory has sustained its objection to this development. It is critical that any development of this type in this particular location, succeeds in gaining the support of such a long established, nationally important and respected wildlife institution.
Steven Valentine (Warwick): I am a frequent visitor to Spurn and oppose this application on the grounds that I believe placing a visitor centre in this particular location will be hugely detrimental to wildlife, particularly to resident and migratory birds for which this site and close surrounding area is of renowned importance at both a local and national level. There are many unknowns here regarding the impact of placing a visitor centre and what comes with it (large numbers of people and vehicles) at this location. It is my belief that this is a massive environmental gamble that we should not be taking. This area is also known to flood and during winter 2013 was under 6ft of water - surely placing a VC here just does not make sense. There are other buildings in Kilnsea that could be used that are in a more sensible, suitably location. Spurn has a unique, wild landscape and associated wildlife and I therefore believe that every effort should be made to conserve it as such
Sandra Shann (Kilnsea): Past history on flooding should make any council member realise the dangers, the damage it will do by weakening areas around there, causing erosion to work faster. Kilnsea is a small Hamlet and we respect what little land we do have left,for,the wildlife. The YWT wish to remove more free areas where wildlife thrives. This is wrong especially for a wildlife trust. Visitors come here to break away from city life, and they don't need a big modern building to spoil their experience. Children want to be out exploring not stuck in a visitor centre looking at a computer. Spurn Point is now basically an island, it's cut away, isolated and crying out to just be left alone. So why not give it what it wants? Let Spurn be WILD as it is meant to be. I hope East Riding Council will see for themselves the importance of saving this area and not allow such a building.