A two-year ban on a jetskier going within 2km of the country’s most important mainland seabird colony should deter others from disturbing wildlife, a judge has said.
Dismissing an appeal by jetskier Tim Evans, Judge Christopher Hughes said his reckless behaviour “undoubtedly caused destruction, damage or disturbance to birds” at Bempton Cliffs.
Both jetskiers and paragliders have been accused of causing problems at Bempton, which has a breeding colony of 250,000 seabirds.
Mr Evans, of Maple Grove, York, had argued the “stop notice” which means he has to stay 2km offshore in the summer could expose him to the risk of “dying if the weather changes” but the Judge ruled the ban was “necessary and proportionate”. He said it “may well deter others from indulging in reckless behaviour around this and other seabird breeding sites.”
Mr Evans appealed the ban at a hearing earlier this month at York. It came after he was twice spotted last June and September near the cliffs. On the first occasion he and two others were witnessed by horrified passengers on board the Yorkshire Belle ploughing through hundreds of seabirds and sending them into a mad panic.
Natural England wrote to the trio, after they were identified by the registration numbers on their jet skis, but Mr Evans refused the special delivery letter. On the second occasion he was spotted by RSPB senior investigations officer Mark Thomas going “full throttle” through a raft of juvenile gannets, which cannot fly, this time with his registration number “deliberately obscured.” The noise caused around 500 gannets on the cliffs to leave their nest sites and head out to sea.
In his written judgement, Judge Hughes said: “In (the inspector’s view) the incident caused significant disturbance to the gannets, if it had occurred during May or June, it would have been catastrophic for the entire assemblage of breeding seabirds.”
The Judge said Mr Evans response had been “profoundly disingenuous” accusing Natural England of not communicating with him, but refusing to accept two special delivery letters: “His explanation for not accepting registered post amounted to a deliberate shutting of his eyes to things he did not want to know.”
Mr Thomas said: “The RSPB is delighted with the ruling. The breeding seabirds at Flamborough Head are of international importance and the verdict clearly reinforces the legal position that the birds are protected from all forms of interference. The RSPB is now looking forward to constructive dialogue with a range of stakeholders to ensure that both the birds and responsible recreational users can exist and operate in harmony.”
East Riding Council said it was working with Natural England on a voluntary code of conduct.