Holiday park threatens future of Hellifield Flash
Save our Craven Countryside is a dedicated campaign group in Hellifield, North Yorkshire, currently fighting a planning application that would potentially destroy the famous Hellifield Flashes.
The area is of significant importance, not only to the local village but for its biodiversity and the sanctuary it creates for wildlife. Three naturally occurring flashes, which are relatively untouched and undisturbed, create a swathe of optimal habitat.
A total of 153 bird species are known to have been recorded on the Flashes. Of these, 26 species are on the Red List of conservation concern with a further 61 on the Amber list. For example, up to 2,000 Northern Lapwings, 700 Eurasian Wigeon and 70 Black-tailed Godwits spend the winter here.
However, for the past two years, a coalition of local villagers and groups has fought a tough campaign to try and prevent a planning application for a holiday park, which threatens the existence of the area, from being approved. The proposal includes 300 chalets, hotel, swimming pool, café, shops, gym, climbing wall and park and ride complex on the site of the Flashes.
Part of the area has been put forward for green space in a new local plan, because of its importance to the village and wildlife lovers in the area. As well as the benefits it brings to locals' enjoyment and well being, it is also an historical asset to the village and community. However, this is being challenged by the holiday park developer.
If developed, the area would be remade and remodelled, completely altering the ecosystem. Locals also feel that the sheer volume of people it would bring to the area along with cars, light pollution and noise, would cause problems for local bird populations.
The RSPB, Ribble River Trust (RRT) and the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) have now withdrawn their initial strong objection to this application because the applicant has worked with the Long Preston wet grassland project. RRT has identified and agreed to purchase land at Long Preston Deeps, where it is proposed that a total of 55 acres is transferred to RRT to be managed as compensatory habitat for the loss on Hellifield site. YDNP will be paid £25,000 for 30 years for upkeep of footpaths and cycleways. There is no guarantee creating new habitat three miles away would fully compensate the loss of the current Hellifield site. Because of its position, the proposed new area would be inaccessible to a lot of the local community. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) has objected to the proposal.
The area is well known in Yorkshire and it is widely acknowledged as some of the best habitat within the Craven Area. Locals feel that allowing such a development on the fringe of the village would be a tragedy for the area.
The planning application can be viewed online here.
More information can be found on the group's Facebook page.