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.
FOR ME THERE ARE NO MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES THE WORKS HAVE CLEARLY NOT BEEN PROPERLY PLANNED AND GIVEN THAT THE WORK IS ON THEIR DOORSTEP-LITERALLY YARDS FROM THEIR CABIN AT SPURN IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT THEY HAVE IGNORED THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN AND BLATANTLY ALLOWED WORKS TO PROCEED AT THE EXPENSE OF WILDLIFE DISTURBANCE.
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
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
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
Your ref. DC/16/03173/STPLF/STRAT PP-05470472 PLEASES ACCEPT THIS E-MAIL AS A FORMAL COMPLAINT FOR BREECH OF PLANNING CONDITION 7 FOR THE NEW VISITOR CENTRE AT SPURN
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