Development proposals put wildlife under threat


You gave the wildlife a voice.

Tuesday November 21st was the day when a big decision on the future of our Local Nature Reserve and the wildlife it supports was decided and a message sent that it is worth speaking out for wildlife protection.

SMSW put its evidence to the Planning Committee and it voted 5 to 2 to reject the application on the grounds that it could not be demonstrated (due to the viewing platforms) that the benefits of the whole application outweighed its detrimental ecological impact.

You gave the wildlife a voice

PUBLIC MEETING: The Planning Committee will meet at Quadrant, The Silverlink North, Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside, NE27 0BY commencing at 10am on the 21 November 2017.  If you are able, we could do with your support! Unless granted speaker’s rights you will only have permission to observe, but although your presence will be noted (and much appreciated).

St Mary’s Island Local Nature Reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including seals that use the island as a haul-out site and many species of birds, some of which are protected. Many people visit the island each year to enjoy the wildlife on the backdrop of the iconic Lighthouse building.

If you are someone who loves to observe wildlife in its natural environment, St Mary’s Island can be the perfect place and we are very lucky to have this Nature Reserve in the North East.


  • St. Mary’s Island Nature Reserve is under a new and additional threat
  • The wildlife is to be a victim of development
  • We must all act now to protect the future before it is too late
  • Wildlife does not have a voice so you must speak for it

Development plans

North Tyneside Council have submitted plans to renovate the Lighthouse and improve the visitor centre and educational facilities. St Mary’s Seal Watch (SMSW) welcomes this renovation and improvements of these facilities.

In addition to these plans, North Tyneside Council plans to build two first-floor open top viewing platforms. These platforms will see an increase to the disturbance of the wildlife on the island due to the increase of the sound being carried across the island and an increase in visual disturbance due to people being at an elevated level.

Further, North Tyneside Council plan to heighten the causeway that links the island to the mainland. This means that the island will be accessible for longer periods of time, preventing the wildlife using the island free from disturbance.

UPDATE 6/11/2017: Despite reassurance that the amended repairs to the causeway would see no reduction in the duration that it is flooded improvements as submitted will STILL result in an unspecified height increase time-say-enough-enough-deadline-wednesday-8th-november/

SMSW volunteers work tirelessly to try and reduce disturbances across the island. Disturbances cause stress to the wildlife and can lead to physical harm of seals as they are flushed back into the sea. The increase in the disturbances that will be caused by the viewing platforms and the heightened causeway will become unmanageable. If the wildlife is disturbed too often, they may abandon the site forever and be lost for generations to come.


SMSW welcomes the renovation of St. Mary’s Lighthouse and improvements to the visitor centre and educational facilities. However, SMSW opposes the construction (based on design submitted for planning permission) of the two first floor open top viewing platforms and any plans to increase the height of the causeway.

Any increase in disturbance to the wildlife will mean more suffering and potentially the loss of the wildlife we love, forever.

The wildlife on St. Mary’s is already subject to chronic levels of disturbance. There must be improvements made in the development plans to safeguard this place of natural wonder and the wildlife that make it home for generations to come.

Not so cute…

 “Seals stampeding to the sea may injure themselves. Pregnant females carry their pup in their bellies and rushing over rocks means bouncing on their pups, which can lead to medical complications that can be fatal for both mother and pup .”

Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT)

The plans

The Development consists of:

  • Refurbishment and repairs to the existing lighthouse and visitor centre.
  • A single storey east extension with a flat timber viewing deck above with 1.35m glazed surround.
  • A two-storey extension either side of the existing link building between the lighthouse tower and the former Keepers’ Cottages with an enclosed viewing area and a flat timber viewing deck with 1.35m glazed surround.
  • Upgrades to the causeway and increasing its height

Find out more