Don’t pass on the Hen Harrier



This is a beautiful sight, a rare sight, an endangered sight. It’s a food pass between a male Hen Harrier (the grey upper bird) and its mate who will take the food back to the nest and feed it to their chicks.  Wouldn’t you lover to see these avian gymnastics in a National Park near you?

There should be over 300 nesting pairs of Hen Harrier in northern England – this year there were three (and none on driven grouse moors).

Why are they so rare? Because they are killed, illegally, because they eat Red Grouse (amongst other things such as voles and small birds like Meadow Pipits).

The government doesn’t have a feasible plan to end persecution of Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons, Goshawks or Red Kites in the English uplands. We do – ban driven grouse shooting.

You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).

Many thanks to Gordon Yates for these wonderful images.



Gems from the written evidence 11 – Bob Berzins

More extracts of evidence pertaining to the Peak District – this from the evidence of Bob Berzins:

  • I have enjoyed the outdoors all my life but over the last 10 or 15 years, especially since reports like Peak Malpractice, I have seen signs of wildlife persecution and understood  the significance of damage to protected habitats. As a fell runner I visit all areas of Peak District moors and I have found that officers of statutory agencies and NGO’s are often unaware of what is actually happening in these areas. I now photograph and report any incidents I see and try to follow up these reports so that the differing types of damage are stopped. The uplands of this country are precious and I just want to see all moorland in favourable condition with a full and diverse range of wildlife. I have seen that grouse moor management determines exclusively the shape of our uplands, causes a huge amount of damage and leaves no room for a diversity of species and I am saddened that I cannot see raptors over any grouse moor.
  • Grouse moor managers often state that waders (lapwing, curlew, golden plover etc) do better on a grouse moor and predator control is often cited as the reason for this. My own observation of the number of snares, spring traps and carcasses in stink pits leads me to conclude that hundreds of animals and birds are killed on a grouse moor where we may see 1 or 2 extra waders compared to another (non-grouse) moor.
  • All crows that venture onto a grouse moor are shot, then piled up in stink pits. Some will describe Crows as vermin but the overall effect of this is a complete lack of balance and variety of species and common sense dictates that this is not a healthy and thriving environment.
  • Intensive grouse moor management requires gamekeeping practices to an extreme level. This in turn necessitates repeated vehicle access through rare and protected blanket bog. Natural England is unable to protect this environment. The commercial interests of Grouse Shooting take precedence over conservation. The only way to protect our uplands is to remove the need for such extreme management by banning Driven Grouse Shooting.


You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).


Gems from the written evidence 10 – Nick Brown

More written evidence from the Peak District – this time extracts  from Nick Brown’s evidence:

  • We had visitors from Holland and France here recently and they wanted to see the National Park’s moorlands and especially its wildlife. I had to tell them that while they would see plenty of heather and some grouse,  they would see hardly any other wildlife and certainly few birds of prey in the Park, just a few kestrels and buzzards but no hen harriers, peregrines, goshawks, red kites or even any short eared owls. They were astonished and I was embarrassed to have to tell them why.
  • Given the utter intransigence of the grouse shooting industry, evidenced by the fact that so few hen harriers now even attempt to nest in England in particular, the only way to restore and revitalise the England National Parks where grouse shooting exists, and the vast tracts of moors outside the Parks, is to ban the activity of driven grouse shooting.
  • This would result short term in a small amount of unemployment, e.g. of game keepers though most could be retained to help with the work to restore the moors and even help to provide the facilities required for a thriving eco-tourism industry to replace grouse shooting.


You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).


Defra admits it hasn’t a clue

Here are two answers to questions from Defra in response to questions from Kerry McCarthy MP:

On subsidies for grouse shooting:

On the financial contribution of driven grouse shooting:

Defra doesn’t know how much of your money it pays to grouse moors.

Defra hasn’t a clue whether driven grouse shooting contributes anything to the UK economy (although it has some mates who say it does).

Much is made by grouse shooters of their economic contribution but government, now, is starting to back away from backing them up.


Gems from the written evidence 9 – Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group

More extracts from evidence from the Peak District – the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group;


  • In the Dark Peak area, Goshawk declined from 11 pairs in 2000 (23 in 1994) to just 1 successful nest from 3 pairs in 2015; the other 2 pairs both failed due to confirmed illegal persecution. Without immigration of birds from other areas these birds would be extinct as a breeding species in the Dark Peak, despite this area being a stronghold for the species at the start of their recovery in the 1980s. By comparison the South Peak population continues to grow and achieve a high level of breeding success
  • Peregrine Falcon began recolonisation of the Peak District National Park during the early part of the 1980s and continued their recovery throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s. However, the population saw the same dramatic population crash in the late 1990s and post-2005 no Peregrine Falcon nested successfully on any land away from RSPB and National Trust managed land, despite observations of birds pairing up and displaying breeding behaviour on or adjacent to private shooting estates every year.
  • During the same period the population of Peregrine Falcon in the South Peak area, away from the grouse moors, has more than doubled and pairs have exhibited a high degree of breeding success (see graphs below). This reflects the findings of the 2011 paper Amar, A., et al. Linking nest histories, remotely sensed land use data and wildlife crime records to explore the impact of grouse moor management on peregrine falcon populations. Biol. Conserv. (2011)
  • …the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative 2012-2015 failed to meet its targets, and in the case of Peregrine Falcon there was a negative change…We feel that it is important to mention that had the Initiative shown any reasonable success, it could have been upheld as an example of how raptor conservation and shooting interests could work together to the benefit of all parties. Unfortunately this has not been demonstrated to date and has become a further indication that those involved with driven grouse moor management continue to believe that they can operate above the law. Shooting organisations appear to be unwilling or completely unable to influence their members’ actions on the ground.
  • …we feel that the government need to impose both stricter controls and increased penalties for noncompliance of the law, as a minimum licensing of shooting estates should be introduced. This position will not be sustainable if the persecution does not cease, supporting a ban will be the only option left open to PDRMG


You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).


Gems from the written evidence 8 – Sheffield Bird Study Group

Today I’ll be highlighting several pieces of evidence from the Peak District – an area which is the fulcrum for change on this issue. The Sheffield Bird Study Group would be expected to know a thing or two about the Peak District National Park. Here are some extracts from their written evidence:

  • The management of moorlands for the purpose of grouse shooting results in the illegal persecution and killing of birds of prey, including nationally rare and scarce species protected by the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
  • The management of moorlands to prioritise growth of heather for the purpose of grouse shooting results in the loss of biodiversity, including scarce breeding wading birds, in delicate local ecosystems.
  • In the Peak District adjacent to Sheffield, grouse shooting has resulted in an impoverished environment, in which populations of various species of iconic birds are seriously depleted, adversely affecting quality of life indicators for the region’s residents.
  • Owners of extensive tracts of upland moors receive very substantial public subsidies to manage land in ways that show no accountability to the public interest of those who fund such payments through taxation.
  • Driven grouse shooting be discontinued as a practice that results in land management that is detrimental to the environment and to the avifauna of Britain’s uplands.


You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).


Gems from the written evidence 7 – the grouse moor owners, manager, gamekeepers

It may not come as a surprise that those engaged in grouse shooting do not want any change to their hobby, sport or business. Here are some examples:

Dawnay Estates, North York Moors:

  • any introduction of further regulation or laws does not seem to serve any useful purpose

Weardale Estates:

  • The law on grouse shooting should not be changed.

Walshaw Moor Estate:

  • Grouse Shooting has an enormous positive effect on the wildlife and the environment and should therefore continue for many generations.

Mark Hancock:

  • Without grouse shooting … the moor … would stop being managed and would return to the desolate place it was before…

Mark Cunliffe-Lister:

  • I strongly urge that grouse shooting continues as it produces a wonderful balanced environment through the use of private funds, which would require a great deal more public funds to maintain if it didn’t exist.

Swinton Estate:

  • I strongly urge that grouse shooting continues as its demise would not only be devastating to my team and myself but to the British Countryside and way of life in rural areas

National Gamekeepers’ Organisation:

  • Please leave it alone and let grouse keepers get on with their important jobs, to the benefit of our very special uplands and everyone who enjoys them.

Knarsdale Estate:

  • If there was no driven shooting the land would go back to sheep farming.

Egton Estate:

  • I believe the answer is no and that the legislation surrounding the management of moors for grouse shooting is, if anything, already over regulated. There is no evidence I am aware of to justify any change to the existing laws and regulations.


There are other pieces of evidence from grouse moors and I’m sure there will be more to come. At least two things are noticeable;

  1. None of these pieces of evidence wants to see anything change at all. Nothing! By ignoring the evidence and the science it is possible to pretend that there are no issues that need to be addressed – a hobby/industry/sport which sees no reason for anything to change cannot be respected.
  2. We are lacking the moving stories of how much the moor owners love raptors and do everything they can to look after them. There are no accounts of how their moors fared when they were lucky enough to have Hen Harriers, Peregrines and Goshawks nesting on them. I wonder why that is? Just asking…


You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).


A day to speak up for Hen Harriers


There should be over 300 nesting pairs of Hen Harrier in northern England – this year there were three (and none on driven grouse moors).

The government doesn’t have a feasible plan to end persecution of Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons, Goshawks or Red Kites in the English uplands. We do – ban driven grouse shooting.

You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).

Many thanks to Gordon Yates for these wonderful images.





Gems from the written evidence 6 – the raptor workers (1)

Raptor workers give up their time voluntarily to monitor the numbers of these fabulous birds. Their evidence on raptor numbers and raptor persecution should carry considerable weight. Here are some extracts from the evidence that has appeared so far (more is to come I am sure) and from a professional academic too:

North of England Raptor Forum:

  • Hen Harrier – now almost extinct as a breeding species across northern England and satellite tagging has revealed additional vulnerability to persecution at its upland winter roost sites (eg the case of the satellite tagged “Bowland Betty”).  Red Kite – there has been very limited expansion from the centres of reintroduction outwards to upland areas. Goshawk – populations in all areas of close association with grouse moor have suffered serious decline and are now critically low.  Peregrine Falcon – populations and breeding success is severely restricted in upland areas close to grouse moor. Upland populations are highly threatened and declining yet lowland populations are increasing.  Short-eared Owl – local examples of illegal persecution may be affecting breeding numbers.  Raven – very locally distributed and absent as a breeding bird across large areas of the uplands.
  • The North Pennine and Bowland Special Protected Areas (SPAs & SSSIs) each have Hen Harrier and Peregrine Falcon as citation species yet their respective populations now consistently fall well below the targets given and continue to deteriorate.  Clearly the UK Government has a responsibility to remedy this failing.
  • Responsible self-regulation by the grouse shooting industry has failed to deliver any tangible benefits. Changes in attitudes and legislation are now urgently needed to finally stop the illegal persecution of raptors in all its forms.  It is recommended that consideration be given to the formal licensing of shoots and in the case of proven transgression against licence terms, such as illegal raptor persecution, then the licence holders should face consequences including the withdrawal of any land use grant payments.

Calderdale Raptor Study Group:

  • I have been monitoring birds of prey for decades. During that time the local Peregrine population has fallen from six pairs to one, Goshawks are observed on the eastern fringe of the grouse moors at the beginning of spring but they have never been recorded breeding. We have ample habitat for Red Kites but they are absent and we had only one pair of breeding Raven in 2016. Hen Harriers do occupy winter roosts regularly but they have never bred locally. Whilst the absence of these species may not be attributable to local persecution the area is self-evidently a ‘black hole’ as far as they are concerned. The reduction of any species by persecution obviously has a negative impact on both the numbers and expansion of those populations and every grouse moor, whether directly involved in persecution or not, indirectly benefits from the actions of others.
  • In addition to my experience as a Wildlife Crime Officer, Operation Artemis Co-ordinator, Licenced Raptor Worker, including Hen Harriers, I live in Hebden Bridge. The village is nestled in the Upper Calder Valley in the Pennines. The valley is deep, steep sided and the bottom is very narrow. Hebden Bridge is at the heart of the South Pennines SPA. It is famous for being very beautiful. It is also famous for flooding. When the flood waters pours down Hebden Water there is only one place for that water to go; into people’s homes, the schools, the doctor’s surgery and commercial property; devastating lives and destroying hope. The village was destroyed in the Christmas floods of 2015, not for the first time, and it has still to fully recover. Scientific research paper after scientific paper lays the blame firmly at the door of local grouse shooting estates. Draining the moors, diverting streams, burning the moor, the construction of tracks and car parks on the Walshaw Moor Estate, at the head of Hebden Water, have apparently exacerbated the flood risk. These issues and the lack of supervision by Natural England are currently being examined by the European Courts of Justice.
  • My experience in law enforcement, raptor monitoring and interaction with the grouse shooting industry leads me to the unpalatable, but realistic decision that to remove all of the ills associated with driven grouse shooting, and for the benefit of our environment and the communities of both wildlife and people that enjoy our shared environment, the only solution is to ban the practice of driven grouse shooting.

Shropshire Peregrine Group:

  • The Group strongly supports the petition to ban driven  grouse shooting for sport on the grounds that the intensive management of grouse moors has an adverse effect on biodiversity and the environment, and frequently leads to the deliberate killings and organised persecution of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers and Peregrine Falcons.

Manchester Raptor Club:

  • Thirty years ago, it was relatively common to see Hen Harriers wintering on Chat Moss, a large area of farmland and former peat workings in the west of Greater Manchester, part of which is a SAC. Today it is a rarity, reflecting the dramatic decline due to the extermination of this wonderful bird by grouse shooting interests.
  • Grouse shooters  have grossly abused the upland countryside, and it has been proved that “management” is causing serious damage, notably increasing the frequency and intensity of flooding (eg Hebden Bridge) and releasing carbon through burning. And they are getting a government subsidy of £56 per hectare for this!  This tiny, wealthy minority apparently have the resources to flout the law. But the will of the majority of the people of this country must prevail. Grouse shooting should be banned completely and the law of vicarious responsibility, already in force in Scotland, extended to England and Wales.

Dr Arjun Amar:

  • I am a Conservation Biologist, with over 20 years of research experience on birds of prey and the British uplands, including a PhD from Aberdeen University on the conservation ecology of hen harriers. I have published over 65 peer-reviewed scientific papers in some of the world’s leading ornithological and conservation journals. I am currently employed as a Senior Lecturer at the FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town, a world renowned ornithological institute at the University of Cape Town. I was previously employed by both the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), where I conducted research on raptors in the British uplands.
  • Thus, this paper showed that breeding performance of Peregrine Falcons was considerably lower in areas managed for grouse shooting in northern England and that direct persecution was the most likely cause for these differences. These results therefore suggest that contrary to the assertions of many associated with grouse shooting, persecution is not isolated to one or two ‘rogue’ estates but rather that it is systemic within the grouse shooting industry.
  • In this paper, we show that on driven grouse moors in the UK in the absence of persecution we might expect there to be around 500 successful pairs of hen harriers. This estimate is based on the known hen harrier densities on grouse moors where persecution was relaxed and the approximate amount of land managed for driven grouse shooting in the UK. However, in 2008 there were only 5 successful hen harrier pairs on driven grouse moors. Thus, only around 1% of the potential number of successful pairs that might be expected in the absence of persecution. This again shows the extent of illegal persecution of raptors that occurs in the British upland managed for driven grouse shooting.
  • I think it needs to be made very clear that this issue is with driven grouse shooting, which requires very high densities of grouse to operate. Other forms of grouse hunting, such as walked up shooting, do not require the same densities of birds, and therefore do not require the same level of intensive management or the same levels of illegal practices.
  • I believe that there needs to be more regulation of the grouse shooting. The UK is one of the only countries in the world where shooting is not tightly regulated, as a result we (the UK government, the statutory nature conservation agencies, the police, and local communities) have very little control over land owners and managers who damage the environment and undertake illegal activity. I would therefore support the suggestion that a licensing system for grouse shooting be adopted

Dr Ruth Tingay:

  • It is quite clear that the driven grouse shooting industry is unable and/or unwilling to abide by the law. It is also eminently clear that the statutory authorities are unable to enforce the relevant legislation effectively.
  • It is my view that introducing a licensing system for driven grouse shooting would be futile. It is already illegal to kill birds of prey, although this is happening with impunity across the UK uplands and the statutory authorities consistently fail to enforce the law. There is therefore no reason to expect them to effectively enforce a licensing system. For this reason, I fully endorse a ban on driven grouse shooting.
  • Mark writes: have a look at the Appendix in Ruth’s evidence of 252 wildlife crime incidents in grouse moor areas over the last 10 years for an eye-opener of the tip of the tip of the iceberg.



You could write to your MP about the debate on driven grouse shooting today (see here).




Guest blog – Spurn: wilderness, fascination, and a worrying situation by Georgia Locock


Georgia is a young naturalist and blogger. She has just started her second year of A levels and plans to study Zoology at university next year. Amongst her fascination of all wildlife, she particularly enjoys using trail cameras to capture footage of nocturnal wildlife, birding, campaigning and sharing her fascination of the natural world in the hope of inspiring others to venture outside too. One way she attempts to do this is through her blog.

Upon Georgia’s first visit to Spurn last year, it was the spectacle of swifts migrating that initially captivated her. As a result, she has tried to visit as many times as possible since, with each visit further inspiring her.



Back in July the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s planning application for a visitor centre at Spurn National Nature Reserve was rejected by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. For the minority who supported the application this was described as ‘incredibly disappointing’, but for those who opposed it the decision came as a temporary relief. Over my summer break from sixth form this year I spent a significant amount of time at Spurn. Upon my first visit last year I was captivated, as are most people, by its wilderness, excitement and fascination. However as a campaigner for environmental issues, I was drawn into learning more about an issue that is being debated here.

This guest blog post should be celebrating Spurn. It’s an East Coast hotspot that is thriving with life and excitement all year round. Not just the abundance of migrating birds and those rarities which it is very well known for, but the variety of habitats; from sand dunes and salt marshes to a canal scrape and meadows which make it ecologically rich and blissful for naturalists of any level. It’s a unique place in more ways than one. Unfortunately I’m not going to continue with this enthusiastic tone, as the re-submission of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s planning application looms over it once again.

Straight away it pains me that I’m openly criticising a wildlife conservation charity’s decision. With the natural environment in a declining state across the globe, it’s important to be endorsing and supporting such organisations at every opportunity as they have part of the voice that has an impact towards change. However, on that point, it also scares me that I can be in such disagreement with a Wildlife Trust’s attitude and plans at one of the UK’s, if not one of Europe’s, most important nature reserves. Nature lovers and naturalists alike support and give their trust to wildlife NGOs for their work preserving and improving the places that mean the most to us, but when they get that wrong it’s just as important to let them know, because surely it’s obvious that what matters above all is the natural world.

The 2013 North Sea Tidal Surge damaged a lot of the infrastructure at Spurn, including the road to the Point which was made inaccessible for public vehicles. Before the Tidal Surge the YWT (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust) generated a substantial income from charging vehicles to drive down. The YWT’s plans to develop an area of Spurn were first unveiled in early 2014. They announced they were going to submit a planning application for a new visitor centre. One that would use £900,000 of the £2 million given to the community by E. ON after the building of their offshore Humber Gateway windfarm. Both E. ON and the YWT claimed that the construction would benefit the local community. However, as the community were the last to be told and had no say on the matter, they were somewhat infuriated. Unfortunately, the relationship between locals and the YWT hasn’t improved since.

The voice of local residents has fallen on to deaf ears and the YWT has failed to take their concerns into consideration. In addition, the YWT’s insults against those local to Spurn is very worrying. For example, just take a look at some of the comments in the guest blog post Sir John Lawton wrote in favour of the development on Mark’s blog last November. The vast knowledge of those who are both local and visitors to Spurn and that has been created from visiting and spending uncountable hours at the site over many, many years is incredible, and their dedication is equally inspiring. The newly published Birds of Spurn book demonstrates how the knowledge and familiarity of a place could not be any more advanced. Their voices need to be listened to and carefully considered before any damaging decisions or developments begin.

When visiting Spurn, I’ve never felt so welcomed anywhere. And this is the case for all visitors, whether amateur or professional birders, or just general naturalists. The Spurn Bird Observatory Trust (a YWT tenant at Spurn who carry out essential conservation and ornithological studies) have engaged with new projects such as ‘School of Birding’ which is an attempt to inspire those of all abilities to enjoy the area. Along with attracting hundreds of visitors from across the country every year for their Migration Festival. It is evident they are very keen on welcoming and encouraging visitors and are therefore not against improved visitor facilities or even a new visitor centre but they are against a visitor centre in the location of the current application.

The YWT have claimed that it is only a minority opposing the location of the visitor centre, and this is only those who live locally. During the first planning application process, only 150 out of the 43-44,000 YWT members wrote in support. There was a much larger number of 351 who wrote expressing their objections. Let’s refer back to Sir John Lawton’s post again. It was a very strong post that attracted over 70 comments. All except two of these comments were in disagreement with what Sir John had written. Passionate comments are equally numerous on the petition against the visitor centre location, along with 800 signatures, and almost 500 ‘likes’ on the ‘No To Spurn’s YWT Visitor Centre’ Facebook page. The volume of people expressing their deep concern demonstrates how passionate they are about Spurn, and only someone with a heart of ‘stone’ would fail to recognise this.

You don’t have to be a local or one of the many regular visitors to realise that something isn’t quite right here.  A familiar wildlife NGO attempting to develop a rich area of land. It is an area that is surrounded by excellent scrubs and bushes which provide shelter for migrating birds passing through, is next door to the canal scrape, overlooking the Humber Estuary mudflats which see hundreds of waders feeding on, and sat on top of a meadow. All of these factors make this area extremely sensitive, along with the obvious fragility of it being located at the coast line. Disturbance is inevitable.


After the recent Council refusal, which was on grounds of flood risk and visual impact, the YWT have decided to re-submit their application at the same location on Triangle Field.  With the availability of other locations that could provide equal opportunities, and the undeniable fact that at this site the impact on biodiversity outweighs the benefits of human enjoyment, then their decision is disgraceful. And yet the YWT have denied on multiple occasions that any other area of Spurn would be a suitable site. The east end of Well Field has been suggested to them, and it would have much greater support including that of the Spurn Bird Observatory Trust. The YWT have argued that its location here would not be suitable as it is 400 meters from the ‘natural entrance’ to Spurn. I find this very confusing. Spurn is a vast area that does not start from the ‘gate’ or is just a spit of sand that stretches out across the Humber Estuary. The Spurn experience is equally prominent whether you’re looking over Kilnsea Wetlands or the Canal Scrape, up at Beacon Ponds, walking around Sammy’s Point, or following the coastline path past Blue Bell or whether you walk down to the Point. As a Wildlife Trust, the YWT should be embracing all of these areas which collaborate to make Spurn so special.

Despite the Spurn Bird Observatory confirming that the area of Well Field they support for a visitor centre is not used by any SPA species, the YWT have said it would not be a suitable location because it is used by whimbrel at times during the year for feeding and roosting.  A recent document supporting their application stated ‘As a nature conservation charity, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is not prepared to build a structure on land that is used by birds or other important wildlife’. Obviously this is great and so they shouldn’t, but why does it not apply when they assert that Triangle Field would be suitable? They say that building on Triangle Field would have ‘none or minimal impact on biodiversity’. This seems impossible to most observers, and those who know the area better than anyone else are fully denying it.

If building on any of these areas would be too detrimental to the wildlife and attraction of the Spurn Heritage Coast, then is it worth the risk? Of course, the YWT do have responsibilities regarding human enjoyment, safety and possible disturbance. For example, new visitors need to be aware of the sensitivity of the area so they aren’t damaging or disturbing habitats or species, but without detracting from their enjoyment and appreciation of the location too. At high tide when the breach disappears and the spit becomes an island, it can be very dangerous and the YWT have a duty towards people’s safety. They believe that improved visitor facilities would ensure they can do this. But why not make full use of the facilities they already have?

The YWT currently own a building called the Blue Bell which is their café, and was originally bought and set up as an information Centre. When it is open, (opening times have often been difficult to ascertain), it does a good job of serving visitors with cups of tea and cake which is sometimes really all they want. Maybe it doesn’t have the appeal of a visitor centre but what’s stopping the YWT from changing this? As a result of the 2013 Tidal Surge, the Blue Bell was closed for eight weeks. If there was a repeat incident, then this could create implications. During the same tidal surge, flood water levels at the site of the proposed new centre reached six feet in depth. They claim that the design of the new building would mean it would be able to reopen just days after water levels recede. What isn’t understood is why they can’t invest in flood-proofing and upgrading the Blue Bell using the large sum of money they plan to spend on the new centre. This would avoid the damage to biodiversity and the loss of valuable habitat in Triangle Field. They have dismissed this idea by claiming that, in its current state, the Blue Bell has a very limited lifespan. And yet the road that runs in front of the Blue Bell is the very same one that leads to where the new visitor centre would be located.

The unclear messages given by the YWT’s attitude towards developments at Spurn are apparent throughout all of their comments on the situation. For any developer, it is surely essential to gather the opinion and views of those interested and involved in the area and take them into consideration. For a conservation body it is surely ethical to put wildlife first. If the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust wants to improve biodiversity and visitor enjoyment at Spurn then a step forward would be by working with and listening to those who visit and those who have developed their knowledge of the landscape over many, many years.

You can view the application and find details about how you can respond through this link. The timescale is very tight with less than 3 weeks to make your opinion heard.