A Step In The Right Direction

Following Tuesday's much anticipated Spurn Liaison Group Meeting there are a few things to update you on.

Firstly the headlines.

I have recieved a response to my letter to the CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

I understand that concerns regarding the future management and strategy at Spurn were discussed at length after the YWT's Annual General Meeting last week.

Positive action has been taken regarding wildlife disturbance. The works have been stopped for around 3 weeks and a more robust Construction Environmental Management Plan has been produced and works have resumed this week.

I am still awaiting a response from the Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration regarding my complaint about Planning Condition 21.

I am still awaiting a satisfactory response from ERYC regarding my concerns over public safety whilst the roadworks are being carried out (planning Condition 17)

I am still awaiting a response to my concerns regarding the design for the discharge of surface water to the car park area (Planning Condition 15)


Firstly, Tuesday's liaison group meeting.

It appeared that there was a genuine attempt, from the outset to ensure that the meeting remained positive and productive and on the whole this positive intention was reflected by the members of the group as the meeting went on. It was agreed that now was the time to draw a line in the sand and forget previous disagreements within the group.

YWT made an commitment that the Spurn Liaison Group will carry on once the development is complete.

The minutes of the previous were discussed briefly and given that the last meeting was in July there wasnt a great deal to discuss. There was one matter arising regarding the proposal to erect some small gazebos by Spurn Bird Observatory Trust at the Migfest festival. This was discounted by YWT at the time suggesting that the RSPB would object on the account of disturbance to waders. The RSPB had subsequently written to SBOT confirming that this was not the case.

We recieved a construction progress update. The building has been re-scheduled to be complete by the 21st December. Heavy construction work should be completed by the end of November.

We were given more information regarding the roof. YWT advised that there was some 'haste ' to progress the roof and the ' brown'roof  had been put on over what has turned out to be a non-watertight roof, resulting in the roof leaking. The brown roof has therefore been stripped back and the roof below will have to be properly sealed, the brown roof reinstated and the scaffold stripped. This will then allow the completion of the external works around the building.

It was agreed that any information posted on the YWT website or the notice boards in future would also be shared with the Spurn Liaison Group.

It was also agreed that YWT would endeavour to provide local residents with more notice if weekend working is planned.

It was also agreed that it wouldn't be unreasonable in the future, for YWT to knock on the doors of residents in the immediate vicinity of the works to be visited by a YWT representative to advise of weekend working.

We were given an overview of the Spurn masterplan by YWT.

Without having the plans to show, I'll describe the main points as best I can.

YWT have acquired some more land in the Long Bank Marsh area known as 'Flight Pond' .This will be developed with a series of scrapes and wetlands to make the area more beneficial to wildlife.

YWT also proposed the introduction of a footpath to a viewing screen on Long Bank Marsh. The area could be enhanced further by the introduction of a wind pump to draw water from the adjacent dyke and improve the habitat for wildfowl and waders. YWT stopped short of committing to this suggestion.

A footpath will be created from Grange Farm to Kilnsea Wetlands. This positive move will prevent the need for pedestrians accessing the wetlands from Kilnsea village having to use the road and would remove the interface between pedestrians and vehicles (which will effectively be travelling at speeds up to the national speed limit). There will also be an introduction of a wildflower rich area on a section of long bank marsh.

There will be improvements to viewing the Triangle by the introduction of a new footpath and viewing screen with access from the North.

There will be a new access path from new car park heading east.

It does appear that the YWT have a desire to remove activity and disturbance at the Warren area.

There was some suggestion by YWT that the sea-watching hut may be relocated to the end of the footpath along Big Hedge. Given that the new footpath network draws people to the current location of the sea-watching hut, I'm not sure what the benefits of relocation would be.

YWT confirmed that the public footpath along Spurn Road cannot be diverted and as such will remain open.There will be 'kissing gates' at the entrance to Spurn and also a barrier. YWT did confirm that the kissing gates will not be locked. Just as a point to note if the gates were locked denying public access that would be an infringement of the rules associated with public footpaths. YWT dis confirm that people would be encouraged to take a different route (and reduce disturbance to wildlife ) by the creation of a new footpath.

YWT stated that a viewing screen would be created to watch waders on the Humber at the Warren.

YWT also confirmed that the footpath network at the Point will be reconfigured.

We also got some answers to some key outstanding questions.

The new car park will not be open for 24 hours. This is because, to keep floodlights on would be contrary to the Habitat Regulation Assessment, and to do so would cause potential disturbance to wildlife especially bats. It will therefore be locked between dusk and dawn. YWT are looking to develop a system to allow this car park to open at dawn. Crucially YWT confirmed that the Blue Bell car park will not have a barrier and as such access will be available 24 hours a day (effectively no change from the present). I'm not certain if the Blue Bell car park will be 'pay to park'.

YWT did confirm that the verges along Spurn Road will be ' landscaped ' to deter parking by the placement of excavated spoil from the management of drains and ditches along Spurn Road.

It was confirmed by ERYC that double yellow lines will not be put into position as part of this development. The Highways will be monitored on a regular basis and subject to that monitoring exercise further traffic regulation measures may be implemented as a result (and eventually double yellow lines could be placed)

There will be no traffic regulation measures in any case until at least 6 months after the development is complete.

ERYC also said there will be no restrictions on parking on the road when the development is complete ( but could be in future subject to monitoring as described above).

It was agreed that a separate meeting with the Highways Engineer will be held on site at a date to be arranged, with members of the Parrish Council and SLG in attendance.

YWT confirmed that parking passes will be available for local residents. (This will ensure the fulfilment of a commitment made during the planning process).

The use of the Unimog was discussed and the perceived disturbance to waders at high tide. No doubt that this will be debated further by the Recreational Disturbance Management Group (RDMG). One member suggested that disturbance of waders by the Unimog was not good practice and this point was agreed by YWT.

The RDMG has not yet met and a date is to be set for this meeting. One point for discussion is the potential disturbance around the Warren area. ERYC confirmed that alterations to the Spurn masterplan (as approved by the granting of Planning Permisdion) could be amended following recommendations by the RDMG as a minor planning amendment.

There was a suggestion that the hide at Kilnsea Wetlands is to be replaced by a hide twice the size. The smaller hide could be relocated on Long Bank Marsh.

There was also some talk (but nothing defined) about the car park at Kilnsea Wetlands being enlarged.

The other point that was discussed was the first draft of an anglers charter. This was welcomed by YWT and requires some further refinements before being issued to the wider angling community.

There was a debate about the signs that remain in the village. I offered my opinion on that matter and it is this. The meeting on Tuesday was positive insofar as there weren't many (if any) major disagreements and YWT came armed with a lot of outstanding information, so on that basis it was a positive meeting. The residents of Kilnsea and Easington are perfectly within their rights to display their dissatisfaction in any way they see fit. One positive meeting today will not result in the signs coming down tomorrow.The first line of the agreed protocols document reads ' the purpose of the Spurn Liaison group is to rebuild and maintain relations with the local community' it therefore goes without saying that if we achieve objective number one, then and only then are we likely to see any possibility of the signs being removed.

On to other matters. I escalated my formal complaint regarding a breech of Planning Condition 21 to the Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration at the ERYC.Hopefully we may find some common ground in our interpretation of the condition.

The East Riding of Yorkshire council, following complaints from others including myself found it necessary to stop the removal of concrete bases around the Warren area on the basis that the works were causing disturbance to wildlife (primarily roosting waders) The CEMP has since been twice revised and as I understand it, it has now been written to the satisfaction of the necessary statutory bodies including Natural England. The document is viewable on the ERYC Planning Portal  and as long as this is strictly adhered to by the Contractor and rigidly enforced by YWT there should be no further issues.

I have written to the ERYC voicing my concerns regarding Planning Condition 17. It states quite clearly within that condition that 'This pre-commencement condition is imposed because it is considered that the existing public highway is inadequate at present to safely accommodate the traffic that the development is likely to generate. However it is considered that the development can be allowed to proceed if the road is first improved'.My interpretation of that condition is that it was imposed on the grounds of public safety. Currently we have a situation whereby the road is being used by visitor traffic, construction traffic, pedestrians ( there us currently no footpath along Spurn Road) and roadworks are being carried out. In my view there ought to be some consideration to segregation, sequencing or road closure to traffic on account of public safety. Currently ERYC are happy to allow things to continue as they are so I guess we will have to hope for the best.

I have also voiced concern with regard to the drainage design. The planning condition highlights the need for percolation tests ( this is to prove that rainwater will drain away naturally as opposed to draining into a watercourse or sewer). The current proposals seem to suggest that the new car park is bring designed for rainwater to soak away naturally. I have therefore questioned with ERYC as to how they can grant planning condition discharge for a drainage system that requires water to percolate naturally but there are no percolation tests that have been carried out that prove the system works. Either percolation tests are carried out as per the planning condition or an alternative system should be proposed. This is important with it being in an extremely sensitive flood area.

Finally I am aware that the future of Spurn was discussed at length at the end of YWT's AGM last Saturday. I posted an open letter to the chairman on Twitter and sent out the message that Yorkshire Wildlife Trust ought to fulfil their obligations more as the guardians of Spurn and less as the majority shareholder.

I also received a response from the CEO of YWT he confirmed agreement with me that more stringent methods were required regarding disturbance to wildlife and that the revised CEMP ought to make things clearer to the contractors carrying out the work.

He also said

'Thank you for highlighting a range of concerns in relation to the Spurn Liaison Group. We are committed to improving understanding and relationships within the local community and the Spurn Liaison group should offer a valuable route to achieving this. I understand that the issues you list have been discussed at the Liaison Group meetings. Of course, passions at Spurn run high, we have tried very hard to work positively with the Liaison Group and I would ask that you try and work with us to set out a positive track.'

My response is whilst I don't particularly agree that passions are running high, I do think that there are a lot of people  who care passionately about Spurn. I quite often think about the mirror principle whereby if you are surrounded by positive people, you naturally think and behave in a more positive manner. Conversely if you are surrounded by negativity unfortunately the natural reaction is to feel the same. I am therefore heartened by this commitment from the CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

The meeting on Tuesday had a positive theme that gave me the feeling that we might have turned a corner.

Tuesday night was a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading.

The views on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Spurn Liaison Group.

An Update on the Spurn Visitor Centre

Firstly please let me apologise for the length of this post but I thought it would be appropriate to give you an update on the Spurn Liaison Group as there has been some news to share.

The headlines are;

I still have had no response to my email (complaining about a lack of response from YWT to queries raised at the Spurn Liaison Group Meetings) from the ERYC Councillor who chairs the Spurn Liaison Group. I also asked him to confirm his position. Disappointing but not surprising.

I have had no response from the CEO of the ERYC regarding my concerns over the discharge of Planning Condition 21. Disappointing but not surprising.

I wrote a letter of complaint to ERYC Planning Enforcement about the premature discharge of Planning Condition 21. I have received a response that I do not agree with and will be taking it up at the next level. I will advise in due course of the outcome.

YWT have put up a notice and displayed on their website a delay to the building works and the completion is not now expected until November/December. You will be surprised (or not) to know that this news was not shared directly with the Spurn Liaison Group.

I wrote to the planning officer in charge of discharging conditions on various matters on the 21st September (including the potential for breach of Planning Condition 7 involving disturbance to waders at high water) given that the works are now in delay-the full e-mail is below. I am awaiting her response.

I visited Spurn last Friday (23rd September) and saw with my own eyes concrete breaking activity at high tide, causing potential disturbance to waders on the Humber.

I wrote a letter of complaint to Planning Enforcement regarding Planning Condition 7 (disturbance to wildlife) on 24th September ( the full e-mail is below). This was copied in to the RSPB and Natural England.

I wrote to the CEO of Yorkshire wildlife Trust on the 25th September (the full e-mail is below) regarding concerns over disturbance to waders at high water including the potential for breach of Planning Condition 7 and other matters concerning lack of information from YWT.

Yesterday (Friday 29th September) I received a letter form the Head of Planning at ERYC an extract is below.

'you will be aware however that several complaints have been made in relation to a breach of condition 7 and these are currently being dealt with by Planning Enforcement Officers.I understand the enforcement officer has already written to you on this matter and confirmed that the developer has agreed to stop work on the affected area and submit an amended Construction Environmental Management Plan.

The Considerate Constructors report that the Spurn Liaison Group asked to see in July has been uploaded to the YWT website. You will be surprised (or not) to know that this was not shared directly with the SLG.

It makes interesting reading some of the points however are factually incorrect.

'There seems to be a good effort being made in terms of keeping in touch with the local community' 

'YWT have done quite a lot of letter drops'

'Excellent efforts being made to protect the environment'

'Monthly meetings with local groups'

'CEMP states that site contractors & sub-contractors will be considerate to the needs of residents' There have been no letter drops to the local community informing them of start times, deliveries, contact details and the like.

Please see the point above about ERYC enforcement action relating to protecting the environment.

Meetings are not being held monthly.The last meeting was in July and we are yet to be informed of the date of the next meeting. We have been told however that it will be when the visitor centre is completed so possibly December.

With regard to considerate to the needs of residents-there has been an incident involving the police and photography of the work in progress. I'm not going to go into detail however it seems a bit harsh that the YWT thought it necessary to call the police to someone committing the 'offence' of photography. 

There are some points in the report that I do agree with. It states;

'Not sure if the site manager has env awareness training, although given the nature of the works perhaps more required'.

'Disappointing that had had no no guidance from senior management with regard to schemes expectations'.

'little wider community engagement'

At the start of this process the Considerate Constructors scheme was discussed and the aspiration was set to achieve a gold award (this would have needed a score probably of 48 or more out of 50. Whilst we were somewhat condescendingly reminded at a later meeting that it was 'only' an aspiration, YWT did commit to (and it was minuted) to do their best. The achieved score (given that some points are factually incorrect) was 36.Far be it for me to judge but would you say this constitutes doing your best?

Read the report for yourselves its on the YWT website.

The latest piece of news I have to report is that the scaffolding has unexpectedly been re-erected. No doubt the reason for this will become clear in the fullness of time but given that the original CEMP said all external works will be complete by August, anyone working from that scaffold will be in full view of the high tide wader roost and some consideration will have to be given to avoid disturbance.

The most concerning element of all of this is how can a body (in this case the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust) whose primary purpose is to protect our wildlife,  allow disturbance to wildlife on an SSSI to the point that the local authority planning department has to take enforcement action? Why did it take complaints from concerned members of the public for action to be taken? Why did YWT allow it to happen in the first place.


I am reliably informed that last Friday was not an isolated incident, indeed there was a suggestion on social media that concrete breaking activities were still being carried at high tide on the following Monday (26th September).

So there you have it;

  • The project has significantly overrun on its timescale.
  • It is approximately 45% over budget (or £400k in old money)
  • Planning Enforcement has had to intervene on matters relating to wildlife protection on an SSSI.
  • The police have been involved with a complaint (shock horror) against a resident taking photographs.
  • The Considerate Constructors report is definitely a case of 'could do better'.
  • The scaffold has been unexpectedly re-erected at a time when the project should be nearing completion causing further concerns for the potential disturbance to wildlife.
  • Outstanding matters raised by the Spurn Liaison Group still remain unanswered.
  • The Spurn community is arguably more polarised than when planning approval was granted.

Great Job lads.

Everything stated in this blog post is factually correct to the best of my knowledge. Views are my own and do not represent those of the Spurn Liaison Group.

Thanks for reading. 

My e-mail to Planning officer on 21st September

Good Morning 

It is with regret that I find myself having to write to you again to chase up information regarding the Spurn Liaison Group.

You will recall the last Spurn Liaison group meeting whereby I challenged Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on their apparent lack of action and the subsequent apology by YWT in acknowledgement of their lack of response.

You then asked me to put my concerns together on an e-mail which I did on the 23rd July.

You will also be aware that I have written under separate cover to both the CEO of ERYC and the Head of Planning Enforcement, arising of my concerns over a lack of communication and answers to key issues, and specifically my concerns around the discharge of Planning Condition 21 (The fact that these points still remain unanswered only adds weight to my argument).

Clearly this has had no effect, as such basic questions regarding the impact of the new visitor centre at Spurn remain unanswered. For ease of reference I have highlighted those in red below.

On another similar matter I have been advised that there has been a note posted on the information board (see photo attached) advising that the new visitor centre has overrun its timescales and will now go on into November/December. There are two points to raise on this;1) Why was this not shared with the Spurn Liaison group? 2) Could you please explain how disturbance to Wildlife will be mitigated? Planning Condition 7 refers to carrying out the works in strict accordance with the CEMP. Page 9 of the CEMP states that external Construction activity will only be carried out between April-August. At the time of writing it is clear that there is still a substantial amount of external works yet to complete.

Finally could you please advise on the date of the next meeting for the Spurn Liaison Group? 

Best regards Martin

My e-mail to CEO of YWT on 25th September 

For the attention of Mr 

Dear Mr 

My name is Martin Standley and I have been attending Spurn Liaison Group meetings since February of this year.

Some members of the group including myself have become frustrated about a general lack of response from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on a wide range of issues that I will go into later, and I am writing to you as head of the organisation to get some clarity on some important matters.

Firstly I would like to bring to your attention a more urgent matter.

I went to Spurn on Friday (22nd September) and was concerned to see and hear concrete breaking and removal at the Warren area.

This was clearly a noisy activity that appeared to be causing alarm to the waders on the mud on the Humber.

Having read your Construction and Environmental Management Plan for the work it states quite clearly that the concrete bases at the Warren would be removed between April and August.

It also states that the work in that location should only be carried out 3 hours either side of low water on Spring tides.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is now late September and the work is proceeding outside of an approved time window, Friday's tide in the morning was 7.23 metres and low tide was not until 13.57. I arrived at 9.30 and works were already in progress- they should not have commenced until at least 11am if you were considering any form of mitigation. Furthermore you state in your CEMP that you would employ an Ecological Clerk of Works to oversee and implement the content of the CEMP..

It is quite clear in my mind that there is no effective management over what is happening regarding the effects of disturbance to wildlife in the SSSI within your control.

You represent a wildlife charity whose primary purpose ought to be safeguarding our wildlife and I would expect to only see exemplar standards of this given the fact that it is happening 'on your doorstep'.

Could you kindly explain why;

A) you are working outside an approved timescale that was set to minimise disturbance to roosting wading birds within an SSSI?

B) you are working outside of an approved criteria relating to tide times and heights that was set to minimise disturbance to roosting wading birds within an SSSI?

C) You are not enforcing the content of your CEMP by intervention of your ecological clerk of works and you appear to be blatantly ignoring measures designed to protect wildlife?

On matters relating to the Spurn Liaison Group could you kindly explain why we have not had a response to the following matters despite them being raised and minuted.

There has been no visit from ERYC Highways department to explain the detail around traffic management and specifically the extent of double yellow lines down Spurn Road.

There has been no sharing of the Spurn Masterplan with the SLG, despite numerous requests and this is contrary to what was reported recently in the Holderness Gazette.

The opening hours have still jot been established and to say that it will be open 'after dawn' is quite simply not good enough.

There is no clarity on access for disabled people (especially sea anglers wanting to fish at the back of the Warren area).

Why was the considerate constructors audit not shared with the SLG despite agreement that it would.

There is no clarity around the extent of fencing and gates around the entrance to Spurn.

Prior to the commencement of works on the new visitor centre, why didn't YWT write to local residents advising of start dates, major vehicle movements and contact details despite this being common practice on construction projects and it being suggested at SLG meetings?

Why wasn't the SLG informed that the works have been delayed and will not now be complete until November/ December?

Will as a matter of courtesy YWT write to local residents informing them of the delay to the works and that construction vehicles will continue to pass through the villages of Easington and Kilnsea?

Why have the principles set out in the protocols document submitted to discharge planning condition 21 not been upheld by YWT?

One further point that I would like clarification on is how will the parking and gating arrangements affect my right to access the public footpath that runs through Spurn at any time I choose. Please don't use the point about public safety on the peninsula out of hours as there has been no significant breech of the wash over this year and a similar arrangement (with arguably a bigger danger) occurs at Bempton and anyone can access that footpath 24 hours a day.

Finally I have been hugely disappointed with the outcomes of the Spurn Liaison Group. I saw this a a genuine opportunity for bridges to be re- built and that a Spurn that would be inclusive for all could have been the product. YWT ought to recognise their responsibility as the guardians of Spurn and whilst you might be owners in title, Spurn belongs to everybody and to create a Spurn that everybody can enjoy, you as an organisation must seek to be far more engaging and creative in how you treat all those affected by your activities at Spurn.

Quite frankly I am of the opinion that the Spurn Liaison Group has been a waste of everybody's time and until there is a serious change in attitude from the YWT you will struggle to capture the full potential that Spurn holds, and the success of your visitor centre so needs.

I look forward to your response.


Best Regards Martin Standley

My e-mail to Planning Enforcement on 23rd September

Dear Mr 


I visited Spurn yesterday (I arrived at 9.30) and was concerned to see and hear significant noise disturbance around the Warren area (an area within the Site of Special Scientific Interest )and was clearly causing alarm to roosting wading birds.

Having re-read Planning Condition 7 I note it refers to 'strict' compliance with the Construction & Environmental Management Plan (CEMP). The CEMP states (page18) demolition of the remaining bases of the Warren buildings will be carried out between April and August and will be carried out during periods 3 hours each side of low tides during Spring tide periods. 

Also (page 5) An essential part of the ecological mitigation will be the implementation of this method statement as part of the CEMP. Its implementation will be overseen by an ecological clerk of works who will undertake routine compliance checks to ensue all measures are undertaken to an appropriate standard'.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is now late September so works should not be proceeding in any case-low tide at Spurn yesterday was not until 13.57 and the height of the tide was 7.23 metres (the biggest tide in the recent set of 'Spring' tides) works therefore should not have started until at least 11am if any form of mitigation was being undertaken.

Clearly there was no clerk of works present who would have controlled this operation and not allowed it to happen.

Could you kindly obtain answers to the following;

Why are works being allowed to proceed outside the stipulated time of year?

Why are works being allowed to proceed outside the stipulated times relative to tide times and size?

Why is no- one controlling activities to prevent the above from happening?

In my view this constitutes a clear breech of planning condition 7 and works should be suspended immediately until a revised CEMP has been submitted and approved to the satisfaction of the RSPB and Natural England (copied in for information).


Best Regards Martin Standley

Autumn in Full Swing at Spurn

I set off early for Spurn this morning in hopeful anticipation that the predicted South Easterly winds would bring some interesting birds in.

The welcome sight of a tawny owl flying through the gloom and alighting on the side of a telegraph pole in Skeffling was a good sign.

I parked the car at the gate and made my way back along the canal. It was obvious that there was a good number of birds moving as meadow pipits and grey wagtails called overhead.

A kingfisher shot west down the canal then a peregrine falcon came over low from the north and continued over the humber having a pot shot at a wader as it went.

A couple of willow warblers and a single whinchat was the best of the rest along the canal. I had a quick look for the marsh warbler at Pallas's pond but there was no sign , but a red throated diver flew out of the Humber out to sea.

I had an hour at the migrant watchpoint known as numpties castle. Its a curious name for a migrant watchpoint as the lads who stand there for hours on end have to be admired for their dedication and skill at identifying birds as they fly south sometimes with only seconds to confirm the id.

Nothing special  was see here but a spotted flycatcher caught by the ringers was nice as was a flock of common scoter as they flew down the Humber.

By now the sun was up and the marsh warbler had been reported so I made my way accross to the gate. It showed quite well on three separate occasions but never out in the open for a 'clean' shot.

That was it really, a cracking morning out in the sunshine, I guess it never quite lived up to expectation but a nice selection of birds all the same. Conditions look promising for the week ahead.