Monday, 9 January 2017



A  DECISION by the RSPB not to oppose the  proposed new visitor centre at Spurn  will have come as a huge boost for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - but Spurn birders will probably feel badly let down.

Initially,  the RSPB had expressed two concerns - the  first being that birds might be disturbed by the  radar scanner that Humber ports operator ABP sought to have installed on the roof.

The second was  that birds would be disturbed by the increase in traffic and people that is the inevitable consequence - indeed, the very purpose - of building the centre.

However, the first objection became invalid when the scanner scheme was shelved (though it might be resurrected at a later date).

The RSPB then withdrew its second  objection after being persuaded that "mitigation" measures would be introduced to reduce disturbance to birds.

These measures are said to include:

  • 'Alternative habitat management' (though what this means is unclear)
  • Increased employment of roving rangers and site wardens
  • Footpath diversions and closures

The RSPB does much fantastic work, but it has a track record of throwing in the white towel  on controversial issues - for instance, in its response to both onshore and offshore windfarms near sensitive bird habitats.

Furthermore, even though the visitor centre manifestly  threatens the special character of Spurn and its unique "spirit of place", the Sandy-based charity can scarcely object to the YWT's wish to "package" and "commercialise" nature when it has done just the same up the coast with its own visitor centre at Bempton Cliffs.

The BTO has not submitted a comment on the application, but Natural England is also giving it a clear run, a factor which could influence members of East Riding Council's planning committee members when they determine the application on January 26

That means the Spurn Bird Observatory Trust is almost out on a limb in its opposition to the project (about which more in a future post).

Almost but not quite. The  Yorkshire Naturalists' Union is staying steadfast in its opposition to the application on the grounds that tweaking the footpaths will do nothing to ease pressure on breeding, roosting and feeding birds.

According to chairman John Bowers, the money allocated for construction of the £900,000 visitor centre would be better spent on reinstating a road - similar to the one serving Lindisfarne and some Scottish islands - to Spurn Point.

"After all, most visitors would want to visit the lighthouse and enjoy views across the estuary to the Lincolnshire Coast," he says.

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