Thursday, 18 September 2014

"Come here! Go Away!" what would the birds say?

On a day when 80% of eligible voters are expected to step out their door in Scotland and have their opinion counted, here at Cockersands we are experiencing a smaller thrust of opinions.

A small farm is applying for planning permission to build 42 chalets. It's a beautiful area and people want to visit. There is another caravan park next door, who have lodged an objection. As have 13 other members of the public and two parish councils. And there are still 21 days in which to object to the proposal. The letters make for stirring reading.

What I find interesting is the reasons cited against the application: everyone is giving the increased traffic on the single track, unframed road as the main reason to objection against the building - traffic not just from residents of the caravan site, but also during the construction.

What hasn't been considered, it seems reading the objections and original application, is the impact of these people on the SSSI site of the bay. The report on bats and barn owl mentions this status, and the presence of wild swans in an adjacent field. The flood assessment discusses the impact of flooding within the immediate area. The contamination control office recommends refusal. The arboreal consultant asks for some tree protection. But nobody, as far as I can see, has mentioned the increased footfall on the sands themselves. The wider impact.

The other week we had eight scramblers out on the sands. Eight high speed vehicles for an hour or so. They come, like many (including feeding birds), to the sands at low tide.

Perhaps this wilderness isn't as important as road infrastructure (certainly the council won't be as financially liable to maintain it as they are the roads). Nor is it as quantifiable. It wouldn't be - that's what makes it a wilderness. How many of these new visitors will walk out more than 500m from their chalet? In the vehicle parking section of the application the declaration is for no increase in parking. In which case the residents will have to walk. Which would, at least, keep the current objectors happy.

If not the herons, curlews, oyster catchers, lapwings, godwits, redshanks, wheatears, American golden plovers, long billed dowitchers, broad billed sandpipers, Kentish plovers, dotterels and buff-bellied pipits.


Lorna Smithers said...

IF ONLY the birds and the sands could have their say! Here in Penwortham / Preston there are plans to build a new bridge over the Ribble that will run through Lea Marsh which is 'only' a 'Biological Heritage Site' rather than a 'Special Protection Area'. Amongst other grasses and rushes this area of saltmarsh has long-stalked orache, a nationally scarce species, and meadow barley... the argument is that if the bridge goes ahead a new nature reserve will be created elsewhere. A little beyond the point methinks. Best of luck with the opposition.

Sarah Hymas said...

hmm, there can't always be that elsewhere... probably isn't now. Good luck with your battle too, Lorna