BUT APPARENT SNUB FOR SPURN OBSERVATORY TRUST WILL DISMAY BIRDERS
THE campaign for a purpose-built visitor centre at Spurn has received an important boost.
Subject to "appropriate mitigation being secured", Natural England has decided not to object to the scheme - a factor which could be influential when East Riding council planners make their decision at a meeting on January 26.
But NE's approach is cautious - for instance, it has concerns about potential disturbance to waders and wildfowl during construction both of the centre and the car park and afterwards when people-pressure on sensitive habitat is certain to increase.
It is also mindful that invasive plant species could inadvertently be introduced along with the materials that will be required for construction.
NE says it is keen to be part of a 'recreational disturbance management group' also comprising the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.
However, in what appears to be a snub, it does not even mention the interests of villagers or he significance of the Spurn Bird Observatory Trust - the organisation which does much important work on the peninsula, not least in observing and recording birds and other wildlife.
It simply suggests that there might be a role on the management group for "others where appropriate".
Below is the thrust of what Alastair Welch, of NE's Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Area Team, has to say about the visitor centre scheme.
"We are keen to be part of a proposed recreational disturbance management group to include YWT, Natural England, the RSPB and others where appropriate
"To minimise the disturbance to important bird areas on Spurn, this group will agree specific details and any changes required to wardening, fencing, screening, habitat improvements and interpretation/ information as outlined in the Visitor Access Strategy."
During construction of the proposed visitor centre, NE is insisting that external works (including any piling) should be carried out between April and August to avoid bird disturbance in winter which is important for water bird species.
It says lifting of modular units by crane should take place between April and November, and that this phase should a) take no more than five days and b) be carried out within three hours of low tide (spring tides).
The use of Ornilux glass to the main glazed windows on the south and west elevations of the visitor centre is being recommended as a measure to reduce bird collisions.
It has been identified that a small area of land within the site of the proposed car park is occasionally flooded during the winter and may currently be used by small numbers of wintering birds.
Continues Mr Welch: "We would support habitat enhancement measures within the triangle fields north of the visitors centre to mitigate for any impacts. "
NE supports the demolition of buildings at the warren and the removal of concrete bases and other concrete structures from around the nature reserve. (It overlooks that these are popular perching points for species such as wheatears and black redstarts.)
These areas will then be allowed to return to sand dune habitat.
Demolition should be carried out between April and August to minimise disturbance to birds in the wintering period - and any concrete crushing should be carried out within three hours of low tide.
NE says additional details should be provided of any loose fill/soil that is imported to the site, particularly the fill for the car park surface and the ramp leading to the visitor centre to ensure that invasive species or contaminated material is not introduced to the SSSI.
The planting and seeding plan for the site, in particular the shrub planting/ grass seeding to screen the car park which is within the Humber Estuary SSSI, should be agreed beforehand with NE..
A plan for temporary storage of any building materials or materials that arise from demolition should be agreed with NE if this is within the SSSI.
Mr Welch is pleased that the visitor centre has been designed as a predominantly horizontal structure, with a green roof and timber cladding and with significant screening provided by earth banks and scrub.
He adds: "This application may provide opportunities to incorporate features into the design which are beneficial to wildlife such as the incorporation of roosting opportunities for bats or the installation of bird nest boxes."