Any of you that made a comment/representation/objection to the Planning Office regarding the development will have received a letter informing you of additional and amended documents to application 17/01146/FUL dated 17 Oct 2017
A second period of consultation is open until Wed 08 Nov 2017 to which you are invited to submit a new objection.
Look at the new information and provide a representation to North Tyneside Council (if you wish to do so). You will need to read through the documents carefully to understand the amendments/additional information and to form a view as to whether your concerns have been addressed or not and then submit a further representation if you feel this is necessary.
SMSW will be submitting further representation making sure we do everything we can to protect the wildlife on St. Mary’s Island. While changes to the causeway design are reassuring (subject to further review) we will be highlighting our two remaining concerns.
1. Because the design fails to provide the basic and fundamental requirement of a purpose-built wildlife viewing area thereby avoiding most of their likely residual impact a Viewing Deck Management Plan has been added to the application.
Considering that visual related disturbance could be avoided through design the convoluted and cumbersome management plan seems an unacceptable compromise.
The desired outcome for the applicant will be to maximise the usage of the platforms therefore it will be necessary for the applicant to show that there is no significant disturbance caused as a result of the operational use of the platforms in order for them to remain in use. SMSW recommends concealing visitors upon the platforms with high sided intelligent glass (that would become opaque when viewing platforms were in use but remain transparent when platforms were not in use) providing an exemplary educational experience for visitors young and old, while minimising the detrimental impact upon the birds and seals throughout the year. It is inconceivable that these no doubt costly additions to the visitor centre could have such limited access they would effectively be useless for most of the year. Designing out the visual impact of visitors upon the viewing decks would ensure the facility remains open and guarantee their future use. The educational gain derived from the two new viewing platforms could be greatly enhanced by showing the importance of inspiring, creative and innovative design to minimise the human footprint on our natural environs.
The applicant (North Tyneside Council) appears to disregard information provided by SMSW as to the potential impact and plays down the potential for and significance of disturbance upon the birds and seals. As the responsibility of recording disturbance is upon the applicant (who will need evidence to show that the use of these viewing decks does not result in disturbance) how can it be ensured that monitoring and results are objective.
This ongoing problem is simple to resolve – If fit for purpose wildlife viewing platforms cannot be provided the only responsible thing to do is not build the platforms at all.
2. It can be assumed that the increase in footfall within the walls of the lighthouse and, potentially, on the rocky outcrops which surrounds the island following the completion of the project in addition to the 25% (18,750 per annum) increase in visitation to the lighthouse/ visitor centre facility will likely result in an increase in disturbance events to the wildlife. Yet all reference to increased disturbance across the site as a result of increased visitor numbers has now been removed from the application.
You can help by urging NTC, to design fit for purpose viewing areas and increase their commitment to preventing wildlife disturbance caused by visitors.