A seawatching hide for Flamborough?


Working within conservation circles, I'm constantly aware of the important contributions we can all make to enhance the natural world. That might be as simple as recording local wildlife and providing this data to others, or through financial support for conservation charities to allow those organisations to then lever in substantial external funding. Another increasingly important method, especially since the advent of social media, is to demonstrate support for initiatives online – decision-makers really do take notice – and this article is about one such request.

Flamborough is undoubtedly the best seawatching location in Yorkshire and, arguably, on the east coast of Britain. Morning seawatches have been conducted on an almost daily basis since the 1970s and this data has been instrumental in the designation of the Flamborough and Filey SPA (Special Protection Area). Work at the observatory has highlighted the extraordinary numbers of Guillemots and other seabirds that winter in Flamborough's inshore waters, while the number of wintering European Shag that roost on the headland are of national significance. However, the outer headland's exposure often results in the abandonment of seawatches during the most inclement of conditions – often the most important times for gathering data.

For several years now, Flamborough Bird Observatory – one of 19 accredited observatories in Britain and Ireland – has been working closely with colleagues at Bempton Cliffs RSPB and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Living Seas Centre to develop visitor infrastructure on the headland. The observatory website provides daily updates of sightings, a ringing room has been established within the Living Seas Centre and Thornwick Pools established as a valuable wetland reserve. However, a seawatching hide remains a missing part of the jigsaw.

Eighteen months ago, the observatory secured sufficient funding to move a proposal forward. Ground engineers were consulted to identify a possible site, a design prepared by architects and considerable public support secured. However, objections from two organisations scuppered the project and it was decided to withdraw the Planning Application. This decision was a difficult one, with the planning officer highly complementary at the level of public support secured which he believed might be a critical factor in the development's favour. Undeterred, we have worked closely with both organisations and a new site has been identified that satisfies them.

We now need to demonstrate public support for the revamped proposal through the comments section within the council's online planning process. We have been told that the scale of this support will be a critical factor in any decision. So we are asking anyone who is supportive of this exciting project to take a few minutes of their time to demonstrate this. Your help is extremely valuable and very much appreciated – thank you.

Logging your support is easy and only takes five minutes. First, go to the dedicated page for the planning application: https://newplanningaccess.eastriding.gov.uk/newplanningaccess/applicationDetails.do? keyVal=OZCRUHBJJOI00&activeTab=summary 

Click on the 'Comments' tab, then click on 'Make a Comment' (you will be prompted to log in or register if not already registered). 

Please then click 'Support' and add any comments you wish to make. Alternatively, you can email your supporting comments to beverley.dc@eastriding.gov.uk quoting the reference below:

17/03866/PLF | Erection of a new sea watching observatory | Land South East Of Fog Horn Cottage Flamborough Head Lighthouse Road Flamborough East Riding Of Yorkshire YO15 1AR.

The deadline to register your support for this new venture is 18 December. Please help this become a reality and who knows, you might be there when that Shy Albatross goes past!

Written by: Craig Thomas