Bempton residents' group criticises RSPB over turbine stance

Bempton Cliffs The RSPB is drawing up plans to expand its visitor centre at Bempton

Campaigners have opposed plans for a new seabird centre near the East Yorkshire coast following a row over wind turbines.

Residents in Bempton have been angered by proposals from two farmers to erect three turbines, including one 46m tall.

The RSPB, which is drawing up plans for the nearby centre, said the turbines would not affect the seabirds.

Bempton Residents Against Turbines said it was "disgusted" the charity had not joined it in opposing the turbines.

Two separate applications, one for a single turbine and the other for two turbines, on farmland about half a mile from the coastline - one measuring 46m (150ft) in height, the others 25m (82ft) - were submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council in November and December by two farmers.

Start Quote

We're frankly disgusted with the RSPB and... we're saying no expansion should take place whilst the RSPB have this attitude”

End Quote David Hindes Bempton Residents against Turbines

People living nearby had hoped the RSPB, which runs a visitor centre on the coastline at Bempton, would support their campaign against the proposals.

About 100,000 migrating birds including pink-footed geese and whooper swans, are estimated to converge on Bempton Cliffs, which is designated as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Residents said these migrating species would be "at great risk of hitting the turbines".

However, RSPB conservation officer Dr Michelle Lindsey said the charity had no concerns over the proposals on conservation grounds.

The RSPB received £33,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) last year to develop plans for a new 625 sq ft learning space, which could be built next to an existing visitor centre on Bempton Cliffs.

Bempton Residents Against Turbines have opposed the plans on the grounds that the conservation charity "failed to support" the group's objection against the proposed wind turbines.

'No threat'

In an email, David Hindes, from the Bempton Residents Against Turbines, lodged a formal objection to the HLF, urging it to withdraw financial support for the charity's new plans.

Mr Hindes said: "We're frankly disgusted with the RSPB and we do not think that public money, particularly Heritage Lottery money, should be going [to it] and it should not be assisted in expansion.

"We're saying no expansion should take place whilst the RSPB have this attitude.

"If that's how RSPB protect the birds, why do they have a P in their name and why have they got royal patronage?"

Gannets The RSPB said the proposed turbines would not pose a threat to the seabird colony at Bempton

Mr Hindes said if the RSPB objected to the wind turbines proposal, the group would support its expansion plans.

In a statement, the HLF, said: "The response we gave to David Hindes thanked him for his concerns.

"The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of £33,400 to the RSPB to develop its proposals for a seabird centre in March 2011.

"HLF has yet to receive the RSPB's second-round application, and in the meantime the objection has been noted and the application will be assessed against our usual criteria when it is received."

A spokesman from the RSPB said: "We do not believe that the proposed turbines would pose a conservation threat to migratory birds as there is a substantial body of scientific research which indicates that barrier impacts on birds from wind turbines are a rare occurrence.

"Birds should easily be able to navigate around a single turbine or a small number of relatively small turbines situated in open countryside, such as those proposed at Bempton, and we do not consider there to be a significant risk of collision that would pose any conservation threat to the population."

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