For some time we have been working with Copeland Borough Council, Natural England and the Colourful Coast Partnership to put together a proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. The extension proposals have been out for public consultation for the last few weeks and the consultation process closes tomorrow. We urge you to use this opportunity to have your say on the proposals and the protection of this stretch of coast. All the information about the proposals and details of how to submit your comments can be found here.
For some time we have been working with Copeland Borough Council and Natural England to put together a proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. Copeland Borough Council is now asking for your views on these proposals. We encourage you to use this opportunity. If you’re unsure what a Heritage Coast is, or why we think the boundary should change then read on…
What is a Heritage Coast?
Heritage Coasts were established to conserve the best stretches of undeveloped coast in England and are defined by agreement between the local authorities (in this case Copeland Borough Council) and Natural England.
Heritage coasts were established to:
- conserve, protect and enhance:
- the natural beauty of the coastline
- their terrestrial, coastal and marine flora and fauna
- their heritage features
- encourage and help the public to enjoy, understand and appreciate these areas
- maintain and improve the health of inshore waters affecting heritage coasts and their beaches through appropriate environmental management measures
- take account of the needs of agriculture, forestry and fishing and the economic and social needs of the small communities on these coasts
St Bees Head Heritage Coast
The St Bees Head Heritage Coast was defined in 1992 and is currently 6km in length. It is the only stretch Heritage Coast between Wales and Scotland and is one of only 5 ‘orphan’ heritage coasts in the country, which means it does not fall within AONB or National Park boundaries. The Heritage Coast definition sits alongside the existing designation of Marine Conservation Zone, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Scheduled Ancient Monuments which recognise the unique qualities of this stretch of coast.
The National Trust, Colourful Coast Partnership, Copeland Borough Council and Natural England have been working together to explore the options to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast northwards towards Whitehaven. They have put together an evidence base which evaluated the whole area against a set of heritage coast criteria. The whole document can be found here. This showed that the area marked on the map is of Heritage Coast quality, and the current boundary should be amended.
Opportunities and benefits
A northwards extension to the existing St Bees Head Heritage Coast boundary could:
- Bring a wider recognition of the quality of the area
- Increase tourism opportunities
- Generate opportunities for grant funding which would contribute towards the further enhancement and ongoing management of the area.
- Heritage Coasts are protected through the planning system. Local Authorities should ‘maintain the character of the undeveloped coast, protecting and enhancing its distinctive landscapes.’ This can also ensure that development is of a higher quality.
- Opportunity to put together a steering group to create a Management Plan for the area. Legally every Heritage Coast should have a management plan incorporating targets, and a timetable for their implementation. St Bees Head Heritage Coast does not currently have a steering group or management plan in place.
Copeland Borough Council would like to know your views on our proposal to extend the St Bees Head Heritage Coast boundary towards Whitehaven and are running a public consultation on the plans until 15 February 2019. All the information on how to respond can be found on the Copeland Borough Council website https://www.copeland.gov.uk/content/st-bees-head-heritage-coast-proposed-extension , we encourage you to feed back any comments and thoughts on the proposals. If you would like any more information on the evidence base or have any questions please email our Project Officer Sophie Badrick at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and help you.
Cumbria County Council are currently consulting on their Coastal Strategy and they want to know what you think! Everyone living, visiting or working on or near the coast is invited to take part in determining how their local coastline should be managed. Comments and feedback are welcomed but need to be in by the 14th December 2018. More information can be found below.
The Cumbria Coastal Strategy (CCS) will be a plan to evaluate and manage the risks related to coastal flooding and erosion along the Cumbrian coastline on a long-term scale. Following on from the North West Shoreline Management Plan (SMP2) which covered the coastline from the Great Orme in North Wales to the Scottish Border, the need for a more focused Strategy was identified. The CCS will assess the existing condition of land and flood defences along the coastline and build on the existing proposals set out in the SMP2, identifying potential future interventions required. So, if you love, work or visit the coast, or just have some opinions on how you’d like to see it managed in the future then now’s your chance to speak up and let your thoughts be heard. You can feedback online or by post, check the website for details.
We had a great day last week taking members of the public on a walk through the Colourful Coast to the St Bees Head Fog Signal Station as part of Heritage Open Days.
The weather was kind which made it a pleasure to show off this stretch of coast. Some of the people who joined us had travelled a few hours and some others had lived in Whitehaven all their lives but none of them had ever been inside the Fog Signal Station. After talking to a few people on the walk we thought it would be good to share some of the information we have about this interesting and unusual building.
The building has a long and interesting history, but fog warnings were set off long before the current building was built.
An explosive fog warning device was in use at the lighthouse from 1913. This would have given an explosive blast at set intervals to warn shipping of low visibility. The blast would have come from disposable tonite charges fixed to the pivoted arm, then set off by the lighthouse keepers after they had retreated as far as they could; the blasts are understood to have been extremely and uncomfortably loud.
The exact date of when the use of the explosive charge stopped and the Fog Signal Station came into use is unclear. A set of drawings from Trinity House’s engineering section dated 1962 show the plans for the current fog signal station on the cliff’s edge, comprised of a bank of electronically-operated horns. We know from talking to people locally that they remember the building being constructed in 1963 and 1964.
A drawing from 1971 shows the installation of automatic fog detectors, which typically ran calculations on mist density in the air and instigated the signal automatically if the water density in the air went over a certain figure and became a hazard to shipping.
It is unclear how long the electronic fog signal apparatus was in use for at St Bees, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that it was discontinued when the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1987.
The fog signal apparatus was a Trinity House-type 3kw 30-unit stack. The ‘character’ of the fog signal itself (i.e. the pattern of sound/silence/sound/silence) was two ‘blasts’ every 45 seconds, being blast 4.0s, silent 2.0s, blast 4.0s, silent 35.0s. This blast had a nominal range of 16 nautical miles!
If you have any memories, stories, photos or information about the Fog Signal Station that you’d like to share then please get in touch. At the moment the building is currently closed to the public, but we’ll be running more guided walks to the Fog Signal Station in future so please keep checking the website for details.
Once again this autumn we organised a Great British Beach Clean at Whitehaven. Now in it’s 25th year the Great British Beach Clean, coordinated by the Marine Conservation Society, is the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK.
The information volunteers have collected over the last 25 years has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items.
Trying to get used to the survey forms always takes a little while so perhaps it was good that the beach at Whitehaven was surprisingly clean. However, a few steps along the beach and looking amongst the rocks and we soon found enough litter to keep us going. In total the four of us collected 269 pieces of litter in just one hour. There was rope, cigarette butts, plastic cups, paper, plastic, glass, nails, lolly sticks and straws. Joseph even collected some rope that was nearly as tall as he is!
The full report from the beach clean can be found her 180915 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 15 Sep 2018. It shows that most of the litter we collected was plastic or polystyrene with paper and cardboard a close second. Most of this was rubbish we were collecting and disposing of before it reached the sea. We had surprisingly little sanitary waste which is different from when we beach clean at St Bees.
As always a massive thank you to our dedicated volunteers who gave up their Saturday morning and came out to beach clean in some grey and windy weather!
If you’ve been inspired by watching Blue Planet II and are concerned about the plastic pollution problem that is currently affecting our oceans then there are lots of ways you can get involved to help our oceans. Why not make 2018 the year that you commit to helping tackle the marine litter crisis? We’ve listed a few easy ways you can get involved or make small changes in your daily life to help out without noticing!
Switch the stick – we’ve written before about finding lots of cotton bud sticks while we’re beach cleaning along the Colourful Coast. Plastic cotton buds are among the thousands of sanitary products flushed down toilets everyday instead of being put in the bin, and the plastic sticks end up on our beaches. Please remember to bin cotton buds – they don’t belong down the toilet. You can help even further by choosing cotton buds with cardboard sticks instead of plastic.
2 minute beach clean – simply spend 2 minutes picking up litter when you’re next on the beach. There’s no need for equipment and you can do it anywhere, any time, on your own or with others. Join the #2minutebeachclean family by tagging your photos on facebook, instagram or twitter and share photos of your efforts.
Join a beach clean – we organise beach cleans alongside a fantastic group of organisations (Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society and Cumbria Coastline Cleanup) along the Colourful Coast and many others take place further afield along the whole Cumbrian coast. All the equipment you need is provided, there’s often cake or biscuits and you get the chance to meet new people while feeling great about helping the environment! We’re finalising details of the beach cleans we’ll be running in 2018 so check back for more details soon.
For more ideas about how to get involved or make changes the check out the BBC’s article.
The Copeland Coastal Conference is taking place at the Beacon Portal in Whitehaven on 17th October. Organised by the Colourful Coast Partnership, with support from Copeland Borough Council, the conference is open to anyone with an interest in the coast and is a great opportunity to hear about how other communities are tackling coastal issues, hear how the coast is used in a variety of ways, share knowledge and most importantly it is a chance celebrate Copeland’s beautiful coastline.
This year we have a variety of speakers covering a number of topics including the new World Heritage Site, marine conservation designations, community action and an exciting and innovative marine litter project. A copy of the full agenda can be found here –> Copeland Coastal Conference 2017
The conference will take place over a full day with a light lunch and refreshments provided. There is no charge for the conference but tickets must be booked in advance. If you would like to book a ticket, please use the Eventbrite site https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/copeland-coastal-conference-2017-tickets-37917300667