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Keep Spurn Wild

This is a page for those people, like me, who want to preserve the Spurn Heritage Coast from inappropriate development.

 

The background

Kilnsea is a small hamlet in south-east Holderness, and its main claim to fame is as the gateway to the Spurn peninsula. People have come for many years to enjoy the peace and quiet, and the large area of dunes on Spurn Point (the only such area of dunes on the east coast). Bird-watchers come to the area, especially in spring and autumn, the migration periods. In 2011 a new area, Kilnsea wetlands,

was constructed, with large pools to attract wintering birds and to replace areas soon to be lost through erosion of the dunes adjacent to Beacon Ponds. Read more about Spurn here and Kilnsea here.

 

Kilnsea Wetlands

The 2013 surge

On December 4th 2013 everything changed in this area. Kilnsea and Spurn were badly affected by the North Sea  coastal surge. Half the buildings in the village were flooded. At the same time the road to Spurn Point was washed away at the northern end, and now only official four-wheel vehicles can drive over the sand to the Point. Thankfully funding was obtained, and a flood bank for Kilnsea from near Chalky Point to the Crown and Anchor was completed in March 2015. Nevertheless the area will always be vulnerable, being almost surrounded by water. More information.

 

The breach, 2014
The breach, 2014. Rod Barratt

For the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust the 2013 surge created many problems. In 2011 the Trust had applied for a grant from the Lottery Fund to refurbish Spurn lighthouse and open it as a visitor centre. Many people thought that without a road to the Point the money would not be forthcoming. Surprisingly it was decided to go ahead, and work began in March 2015. However the lack of a road has resulted in a massive loss of income to the YWT. The income from cars was very important to the Trust and for many years much more money went out of Spurn to headquarters in York than was ever spent at Spurn. Now, apart from the rent from its tenants, the RNLI and ABP, Spurn no longer generates money for the Trust.

 

E.ON and the proposed YWT Visitor Centre

In 2011, when plans were announced by E.ON to build a massive wind farm of over 60 turbines just off the coast of Easington/Kilnsea, with the landfall of the electricity cables at Easington, the community were confident that the company would wish to provide compensation.

 

However nothing was heard from the Humber Gateway turbine people until May 2014, when at an Easington Parish Council meeting two representatives came to talk about the scheme. They explained that two million pounds had been set aside for 'The community'. They told councillors that the bulk of it (almost a million pounds) was to be given to the building of a new Information Centre and a large coach and car park in Kilnsea for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The two EON representatives were told very vehemently that no consultation had taken place with anyone in the community, and that a Visitor Centre was unwanted. It turned out that E.ON thought that talking to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the YWT was talking to local people!

 

The proposed site

The choice of site is a strange one for the YWT (a conservation organisation). It is on a little triangular field at the end of the Canal.

 

This field was managed from 2011 under Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, and until the 2013 surge it was grazed from September to April. This was intended to keep the grass short to create suitable habitat for feeding waders and migrants, and in the summer it has been full of purple vetch and other wild flowers, and attractive to bees, butterflies and moths. After the floods it was left to recover, but in late 2014/early 2015 sheep have been brought back to graze it. Surrounding the field are somewhat stunted trees and bushes, many planted by the Spurn Heritage Coast Project in the early 1990s, when Canal Scrape was created, and Canal Scrape hide was built. This area is now a very important part of a wildlife corridor along the Humber. There are very few such little havens of bushes, trees and water in Kilnsea. Migrating birds find it a useful resting place. It is part of the Kilnsea Triangle Walk, which goes from the Crown and Anchor, along the Canal, to the hide, and back via the road to the Blue Bell and thence past the church.

The architect’s proposals

 

The artist’s impression is totally misleading so we have made a new one. We now have four new mock-ups  which show the massive mast which ABP  want to place on the building (they have told us it could go elsewhere, even on the gas site at Easington)

My description – the building is modern and ugly, bearing no relationship to the vernacular style of the area. It would be visible just about anywhere in Kilnsea, as its height, and the lack of any tall vegetation nearby, would mean that it would dominate its surroundings. An ‘amphitheatre’ for outside events, and bird-feeding stations have been incorporated into the design.So is the plan for a tamed landscape? Something to make people feel they haven’t come to a wild place at all? Yes! A café, display areas, educational rooms, toilets and offices are included in the building.

 

 

Triangle Field from west

The coach & car park: another source of income for the YWT?

On the eastern side of the road, opposite the entrance to Canal Scrape car park would be a new car park for 77 cars and coaches. This would be placed just under the flood bank in a section of the field currently flooded in winter. A possible problem? Certainly more loss of habitat.

 

Plan of site (note road barrier)

No road barrier

The architect’s drawings (above) show a road barrier, but we have been told that this is no longer the intention.  They want ‘traffic control measure’s’. We have also been told that residents of Easington parish will be able to use the new car parks without charge. But as car-parking in Kilnsea has always been free that seems a rather pointless privilege!

 

 

Looking out to sea

The local reaction —‘a carbuncle’, a ‘white elephant’

Just about no one locally can see how this centre will benefit the parish. If it does anything it will increase the number of people who will come expecting to be able to continue to enjoy the Spurn peninsula. However you need to be a fit active person to be able to walk down there and back. The Unimog purchased for the YWT by Natural England does not solve the problem of access because it can only be used for so-called’ Spurn safaris’ for two to three hour trips at £10 per head at weekends. (family rates cheaper). So Spurn Point is no longer easily accessible for those would find a walk of 7-8 miles there and back impracticable.  If they are lured to Kilnsea by a new visitor centre where will they all go? Kilnsea is a very small place. When people were able to drive down Spurn they could enjoy miles of sand dunes and would hardly be noticed, even in the height of summer. But Kilnsea beach is only small, and is cluttered with concrete, and there are no little paths through dunes in Kilnsea.  And the YWT already has a perfectly adequate (albeit underused) café and Information Centre at the Blue Bell. A petition was taken around Easington and Kilnsea in late 2014 and the result was striking. Local people do not want a visitor centre, especially a huge one, funded by E.ON, and located in a sensitive area.  We do of course continue to welcome visitors as we want to share this lovely untouched place.

The matter of the funding is perhaps the most contentious. Other off-shore wind farms have spread their community funds more fairly than this one appears to be doing.

Proposed coach & car park
View from Chalky Point

In December 2014 it was revealed that as Associated British Ports (ABP) are abandoning the Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) tower at the Point they want to incorporate a new radar mast on the new Visitor Centre. It has been pointed out to ABP that no-one in Kilnsea would object to a radar mast as it is essential for safety at sea and in the estuary. But to place it upon an unwanted Visitor Centre would be to associate ABP, which has always been a popular business locally, with a disastrous potential white elephant. Not only is the proposed building totally out of keeping with Kilnsea, but apparently it will open every day of the year. In Kilnsea? When no-one comes to this area in winter but a few anglers, hardy bird-watchers, and relations of residents?

Some reactions

A Facebook site was started in December 2014 (‘No to Spurn’s YWT Visitor Centre) and a petition was set up. It now has over 700 signatures.  A meeting between the YWT and EON and some of those opposed to the Visitor Centre took place.  E.ON was left in no doubt that this enterprise is unpopular with local people.  A few weeks after the meeting people in the parish received a leaflet, which included details of the so-called Community Fund — £100,000 to be divided between 12 villages between the coast and Hedon!!!  The parish is to be fobbed off with a paltry share, up to a maximum of £10,000, with strict criteria and restrictions, which may be hard to meet for some organisations. Not only are residents of Easington/Kilnsea to have their views of the sea marred by an enormous wind farm, they are expected to look at the unwelcome monstrosity and blot on a natural landscape of the proposed visitor centre. All this in the little village of Kilnsea.

 

The current situation   

 

Now that the application has been passed you can watch carefully how the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust fulfils the many conditions put in place. Those of us who love the area want people to enjoy it, because we know it is a very special place. Local people are not the only ones opposed to these plans. Most visitors come to enjoy the relative wildness of the Spurn Heritage Coast. As the current custodians, the YWT has a duty of care for this area, and as a conservation body should be protecting and not exploiting the Spurn Heritage Coast.

 

It is now necessary to continue our battle to preserve what we can of the Spurn Heritage Coast.

 

I am unhappy about the situation but I know that those of us who fought to stop this development did all in our power.   We will continue to campaign to KEEP SPURN WILD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KeepSpurnWild 9 January 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Make your Voice Heard

 

 

 

 

Keep Spurn Wild Action Group and local people, contrary to media attention, welcome visitors to Spurn as we believe they will be good for the local economy but more importantly, Spurn Peninsula is one of the last truly wild areas in East Yorkshire, and should be enjoyed by all.

 

However the group has profound concerns when it comes to building a new visitor centre on a green field site at Spurn, when there are more suitable options, that will have no impact on the ecological footprint or damage the unique landscape Spurn has to offer.

 

If you feel like we do, that this situation is unacceptable, please voice your objections by writing to:

 

Mrs Karen Abba

 

Planning Ref: 15/03947/PLF

 

Case officer

 

East Riding Council County Hall Beverley

HU17 9BA

 

 

Triangle Field from south. Rod Barratt
Kilnsea on Google maps
Blue Bell YWT Information Centre & Cafe