CAMPAIGNERS in Bempton have objected to plans for a new seabird centre after failing to win backing for their own campaign against a nearby wind turbine.
The Bempton Residents Against Turbines group is fighting plans for three turbines, including one 150ft tall just half a mile from the RSPB centre at Bempton.
They have sent their objections to to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has so far given the RSPB £33,000 to develop plans to extend the centre, claiming the RSPB has lost sight of its conservation role by not joining the fight against the turbine, which will supply electricity to a pig unit at Norway Farm.
The RSPB insists there is no evidence that there will be an impact on seabirds or birds in surrounding farmland.
Ian Kendall, site manager at Bempton, said there was no evidence that turbines would impact on seabirds or farmbirds.
Mr Kendall said: “As a scientific organisation which we largely are, we can only state facts; the facts are that it is not going to affect the seabird colony at all because they don’t feed on the fields, they feed on the sea.
“We have eight species of seabirds here and they are completely and utterly oceanic. Guillemots, razorbills and puffins are hardly capable of walking on the land; these birds have developed over the millennia to be completely and utterly dependent on the sea.
“Pink-footed geese pass down the coast and they can quite easily see turbines.
“The fact is birds avoid turbines in the same way that they avoid buildings.”
But David Hinde, who lives in Bempton, and a spokesman for the residents’ group, said there were fears that the development could lead to a slew of similar applications on the coast.
He said: “Bird lovers will be amazed to find RSPB conservation officers saying that they are intending not to object to a 150ft turbine, the largest single commercial turbine in the Yorkshire Wolds less than half a mile from the RSPB Visitor Centre on the Flamborough Heritage Coast.
“The Flamborough Heritage Coast, that RSPB are supposed to be a protective partner in, a tourism partner too, obtain a large amount of their income from RSPB members.
“When the RSPB migration recorder at Buckton tells you that 100,000 migratory birds will be passing in the line of the turbine proposed on their way to Buckton and Bridlington Bay, including whooper swans and the rare pink-footed geese too, as they shortcut across this part of the headland, one questions how this organisation with royal patronage deserves to have a P in its name – or an R for that matter.”
Heritage Lottery Fund financing has so far allowed the charity to make detailed plans for a major extension of its facilities, which aims to make the centre an attractive year-round visitor destination with a dedicated learning space and areas for research.
The RSPB will put in a bid to the fund for around £640,000 in June, which according to Mr Kendall is to give “existing visitors a better experience” and provide indoor facilities for when the weather is bad.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has said the objection had been noted.