The Spurn Visitor Centre

I first went to Spurn with my dad when I was around 4 years old and remember paying Barry our money at the gate and driving down to the end usually to dig bait for fishing or rake the sand for cockles or search the seaweed for winkles.

One sound that intrigued me was thedurrr of the redshanks and the ‘dickbods’ as my dad called them following us around taking small scraps of food as we turned over the sand. Even at that young age I can recall the sense of remoteness and the feeling of being miles away from anywhere.

Fast-forward 20 years and I was taking my daughter down to the peninsula on some of our first birdwatching trips. On one particular Sunday afternoon in October we saw a long-tailed skua a waxwing, a black redstart, a firecrest and a merlin among a host of other common birds.

She still talks about that day today and even though it seemed like an age to get there the fact that Spurn was so remote, so wild and so special ensures that the place is forever etched into our hearts.

So what has changed over the last 40 years? Well the answer to that is pretty much not a lot. The birds are still there, the place is still as wild and remote as it ever was and it remains one of the few (if not the only) true wilderness on the East Coast.

Yes the road has been breeched but that has in a funny kind of way added to the unique charm. It is that bit harder to get down, the tides make access a challenge but all of that adds to the wilderness, mother nature has claimed Spurn back and the wildlife continues to thrive, as a result visitor numbers to the peninsula are down.

It is clear that in the halcyon days of Spurn that a significant amount of money would have been generated for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

At its peak it is claimed that Spurn had in excess of 60,000 visitors per year. Which no doubt generated a significant amount of cash. It is worth mentioning at this point that in all of the time I have been visiting Spurn that there has been no significant sign of any investment in habitat improvement since I have been there.

What has been noticeable however is 3 things. There is now more barbed wire at Spurn Point than there was in 1944-all of this erected by YWT-acres of land with fences erected for no apparent reason other that to impale roe deer confused by their long trodden paths being blocked by the very people entrusted to protect them. Whilst admittedly I don’t know the full reason as to why miles of barbed wire fence has to be erected on a nature reserve, it is my guess that there is some financial gain for the trust to do so. I would also ask the question as to how the erection of said fencing at what must be a considerable cost contributes in any way to the enhancement of the habitat.

The second major change is the refurbishment of the Lighthouse to the tune of around half a million quid.

On the face of it you might think that this was a good idea-preserving part of our long and proud maritime history.

However, when you look at the detail, the refurbished lighthouse has been promoted extensively by the YWT-you’ve got to ask yourself why would a wildlife trust be interested in such a project. Then take into account that the lighthouse is near the end of the peninsula, i.e 3 miles away from the nearest place you can park your car. The road is breeched constantly at high tide making the lighthouse inaccessible for a considerable part of the year.

The trust have invested significantly in the purchase of a unimog vehicle to take visitors on a safari down to the point charging a tenner a time. Its just that the unimog keeps getting stuck and causes significant damage to the delicate dune system as it tears through it, no doubt causing significant disturbance to the environment and embarrassment to the trust.

Quite simply if you just look at the headlines around the lighthouse it falls down at every level. Significant capital cost, no proper means of access, no means of recovering the costs, damage not improvement to the environment, so remote that your average day visitor will not bother. White elephant does not come into it.

Who did the maths around that one ? are they still in a job and if so why?

The third and last significant change is the proposed visitor centre. Supported from what is supposed to be community funding generated by an off-shore wind energy company but its location opposed to by almost everyone in that community. The vc is in the most insensitive location imaginable. The vc has a 23m radio mast that was amazingly omitted from almost all of the publicity photos released by the trust. The construction of the vc will impact on the existing fragile habitat. The visitors that the vc will generate will impact on the sensitive fragile habitat. The visitors when they get there will have limited access to the peninsula for all of the reasons stated above. Those visitors no wanting to pay to park will cause congestion by parking further up the road in Kilnsea.

There must be some real questions asked as to the motives of the YWT on this. Clearly the cash cow that was Spurn when the road was opened is no more. There is currently no information on how much it will cost to park in the new car park, however it is claimed that the VC will generate 19 jobs and 6 apprentices. I would suggest that there wouldn’t be much change from 100k per year in wages.This works out at just short of 2 grand profit every week to break even. The car park when full holds 70 cars say4 quid to park 9some of those will already have membership of YWT) but fior the purpose of this discussion lets say they don’t, that will generate 270 quid.

I go back to my earlier point about YWT investment in Spurn habitat and with these kind of figures, any future expenditure of funds on habitat management and protection of wildlife looks unlikely.

YWT also claim that the vc will reduce disturbance to Kilnsea. Can someone please tell me a) who is complaining now about disturbance in Kilnsea? b) who thinks erecting a vc complete with 23m radio mast will not cause disturbance to the open views and stunning landscape c) who thinks 60,000 visitors a year will not cause disturbance to Kilnsea when they have to drive through it to get there and then turn around and park in the village when the find out they have to pay to park?

There must be some serious questions as to how the YWT is run, its policies and its motives as the only conclusion from all of this I can draw, is that they are in it purely for financial reasons, they do not care about the wildlife at Spurn and they way they have gone about promoting the visitor centre amounts to nothing more than a pack of lies and deceit.

I am not objecting to a vc at Spurn in fact YWT already have a perfectly functioning one at the Bluebell.

I am objecting to the visible and physical damage that this vc will cause.I have ended my membership pf the YWT as I seriously question their motives.

Most of all I am concerned that the wilderness and the wildlife of the place I love will be damaged irrepairably by those we entrust to protect it.