Tuesday, 24 January 2017



Student Georgia Locock addresses the meeting

Anyone hoping for fireworks from the pre-planning meeting presentation on the proposed. visitor centre at Spurn will  have come away disappointed.

During the hour-long meeting, in which representatives of both sides were given half-an-hour to present their cases, the 60 or so members of the public were on their best behaviour, with no placard-waving protests nor other disruptions.

The only murmur of disquiet in the public gallery at Beverley's County Hall came  when Martin Batt, one of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's team, said that the organisation had been cleared of blame for the drowning of 38 its flock of Hebridean sheep in the 2013 flooding of Spurn.

The animals had not been transferred in advance to  safe pastures, but .Mr Batt (above) claimed  the RNLI had since said that the severity of the flood could not have been predicted.

The meeting also heard from fellow supporters of the project including the trust's director of operations, Terry Smithson, who expressed  regret that, in its determination to reach out to prospective new visitors, the trust had overlooked the sensitivities of members of the  community, many of whom have a sense of ownership of the site.

He did not specifically identify the groups to which he was referring but these are likely to include parish councils, the angling fraternity and birders, some of whom are members of the Spurn Bird Observatory Trust.

Declared Mr Smithson (pictured): "We have appeared defensive and inflexible, but Spurn needs to provide a welcoming environment.

"There is a danger to the public from ex-military structures and brown moth caterpillars which can cause skin irritation. We need to manage visitor safety .

He continued:  "An independent survey has indicated that the proposed centre will have little impact on wildlife."

Bridget Hansford, of Salt architects, said the centre would "build on the spirit of place" and that her firm had worked closely with structural engineers to address flood risk concerns.

Earlier, project opponents  Tim Cowley (below) and Georgia Locock sounded strong alerts respectively on flood risk and the potentially detrimental impact on waders and other birds.

On behalf of Spurn Bird Observatory Trust, Mark Singlehurst  warned that increased visitors would create added pressure on access roads which would need to be upgraded, causing disturbance for wildlife.

Mr Singlehurst  (above) went on to indicate other potential nuisance such as  oil spillages and the impact of reflections from the shiny metal and glass of parked cars and coaches on sunny days.

The application will be determined by East Riding Council's planning committee at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

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