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Godrevy to St Agnes Cornwall model flying restrictions


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As someone who flies non motorised gliders from St Agnes, Cornwall several times each year, I received a forwarded email written by Steve Sudworth who is the lead ranger at Godrevy to St Agnes.

The National Trust have been liaising with Natural England about various SSSI issues in this area and in doing so they have informed the NT that they can no longer issue licenses to organisations or individuals that might affect the SSSI without 1st applying for consent. This will affect hang gliders, para gliders, non powered model aircraft and rock climbers.

Natural England have concerns about the impact flying may have on the breeding bird assemblage, which is a key feature of the SSSI designation. They have informed the NT that, in their opinion, hang gliders, para gliders and model aircraft landing & taking off from this site during the breeding season, from March through to September, would affect the breeding birds and as such it is unlikely that they would provide SSSI consent for these activities. They have also informed the NT that it is an offence to disturb nesting birds under the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

Natural England have said that they would consider an application to fly outside of the bird breeding season from October to February inclusive, on the advice that they consider the potential impact of the activity on the Grey Seal population, which is also a notified feature of the SSSI. 

Natural England have also requested that the NT put together a monitoring program in place to assess disturbance impacts and the condition of the breeding bird assemblages to do due diligence in their responsibility in managing the SSSI.

So, as of the 7th February 2022, we are no longer allowed to fly within the Godrevy to St Agnes SSSI! Anyone flying here will be in breach of Natural England's SSSI regulations which can amount to a criminal offence and a fine under the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

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Sad news, and yet another example of Natural England overstepping the mark. What is the evidence for their claims? It will be non-existent supposition as usual, though part of me does want to hear their explanation for how model flying would affect grey seals - last time I looked they don't do much flying, or indeed looking upwards...! 

 

I know the BMFA have been involved before regarding fying at St Agnes back in the 90s.... have they been engaged by local flyers to help fight this?

Edited by MattyB
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8 minutes ago, MattyB said:

Sad news, and yet another example of Natural England overstepping the mark. What is the evidence for their claims? It will be non-existent supposition as usual, though part of me does want to hear their explanation for how model flying would affect grey seals - last time I looked they don't do much flying, or indeed looking upwards...! 

 

I know the BMFA have been involved before regarding fying at St Agnes back in the 90s.... have they been engaged by local flyers to help fight this?

 

I don't see how these groups can have any more affect on the wildlife than the hundreds of thousands of walkers that walk from the coastguard hut at St Agnes down to the Wheal Coates tin mine, letting their dogs off the lead and then chasing the wildlife. 

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I believe it’s a common experience that birds have no natural fear of models and, for the most part, ignore them or give them a cursory inspection and go about their business. We have red kites and buzzards as permanent residents in the woods adjoining our site - the kites certainly adopted the location by choice…the buzzards may well have pre-dated our activities which include all types of model with the exception of turbines. 
 

 

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15 minutes ago, Steve Houghton 1 said:

 

I don't see how these groups can have any more affect on the wildlife than the hundreds of thousands of walkers that walk from the coastguard hut at St Agnes down to the Wheal Coates tin mine, letting their dogs off the lead and then chasing the wildlife. 

 

Of course wedon't, but this is Government we are talking about (Natural England is a quango remember). a) There's a lot more walkers and dog owners than there is of model flyers, and b) they are worth a lot more to the local economy. Could there be a link perchance? ?

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10 minutes ago, Martin Harris - Moderator said:

I believe it’s a common experience that birds have no natural fear of models and, for the most part, ignore them or give them a cursory inspection and go about their business. We have red kites and buzzards as permanent residents in the woods adjoining our site - the kites certainly adopted the location by choice…the buzzards may well have pre-dated our activities which include all types of model with the exception of turbines. 

 

I am pretty sure the BMFA comissioned a study into this about 20-30 years ago that showed gliders had essentially zero effect, but I've been unable to find it on Google to date. Hopefully Manny and co have it on file somewhere...

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Perhaps we should volunteer to put bird feeders out for our feathered friends.  Ah, but that will mean we will alter the balance between species and the more persistent, or bullying, species will pull ahead.  Can't have that happening.  Oh, what about all the gardeners who feed the birds in their gardens?

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I don't think Natural England have done any research whatsoever into the impact of model flying, hang gliding or para gliding. The time on the ground is minimal and we tend to just stay in one spot whilst we are on the ground. At St Agnes the pits are usually right by a path or car park, and if anyone from Natural England had visited the site whilst model flyers were there, then they would know this. 

My own experience is that birds are more inquisitive of model aircraft, rather that putting them off breeding. I've had gulls, buzzards & red kites follow my models in the air, just watching as if they were thinking, "what kind of strange bird is this"? 

One time I was flying off Rame Head in Cornwall and on this occasion I did have 2 Peregrine Falcons trying to chase my model away. I did think that they must have had chicks in a nest on the cliffs. 

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20 hours ago, MattyB said:

 

I am pretty sure the BMFA comissioned a study into this about 20-30 years ago that showed gliders had essentially zero effect, but I've been unable to find it on Google to date. Hopefully Manny and co have it on file somewhere...

 

Success! I had another go and found three relevant documents in the BMFA downlads section here....

 

image.png.79f96594432058cc19efe806c10af523.png

 

 

I haven't read these in full yet, but scanning the synopsis of the Batten report it indicates no hard evidence was found for model flying having had a detrimental effect on birds, and that study was at a powered site.

 

Edited by MattyB
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49 minutes ago, MattyB said:

 

Success! I had another go and found three relevant documents in the BMFA downlads section here....

 

image.png.79f96594432058cc19efe806c10af523.png

 

 

I haven't read these in full yet, but scanning the synopsis of the Batten report it indicates no hard evidence was found for model flying having had a detrimental effect on birds, and that study was at a powered site.

 

 

Well done MattyB 

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Before I retired and moved away from the area, I belonged to a club just outside London. When they bought their site, the RSPB and local twitchers were up in arms - despite the fact that the club had been renting the field off the farmer without any repercussions on the wildlife for ages.

 

The club got planning permission anyway.

 

Nowadays the site is a haven for wildlife of all kinds, mainly due to the outfield being allowed to grow wild. Plenty of vegetation plus NO agro-chemicals means the insects have returned in bulk, and with them the birds! The RSPB now think that model flying is actually beneficial to bird life, based on the experience with that club, and the club even allows the twitchers access to the site and use the pavilion as a hide, when not in use by the club.

 

The BMFA are aware of this, and have used it in the past to squash the "model flying is bad for birds" theorists.

 

In the area that I now live in, it is the birds that are a menace to gliders! It is not unheard of for the seagulls to attack gliders soaring off the cliffs, even pecking the covering off the wings of open structure types! They are certainly NOT afraid of models!

 

--

Pete

 

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3 hours ago, Peter Christy said:

...In the area that I now live in, it is the birds that are a menace to gliders! It is not unheard of for the seagulls to attack gliders soaring off the cliffs, even pecking the covering off the wings of open structure types! They are certainly NOT afraid of models!

 

The first part of the your post is a real good news story, but I would personally not share the quoted section above with the authorities involved. I'm pretty sure NE would choose to interpret this as the gulls seeing the model as a threat to them and their chicks, hence the attacks; that would give them more ammunition to get rid of flyers, not less.

Edited by MattyB
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Natural England , RSPB are IMO blinkered and selfish organisations who regularly overstep the mark. Dog walkers, horse riders.off road cyclists and grazing cattle all affect wild birds far more than flying models. Our flying field is a haven for wild life and birds who seem to take no notice of our models apart from the Buzzards who regularly catch thermals with the Glider gliders. 

Unfortunately I don't think you will beat them as they have the ear of the old boy network who pull all the strings . Good luck and hope BMFA can help.

 

 

 

Edited by Engine Doctor
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It’s a damn nuisance not being able to go to St Agnes. However, I sometimes fly off the dunes at Perransands. You pay the £5 daily parking fee. There’s nothing to spoil the flight....NW is the best direction 

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I was told recently by a land agent who deals with planning and change of  use etc that one of things that has to be taken into consideration now are outdoor activities. This plays into the 'well being and mental health' fad currently all the rage.

My mental health if fine if you don't believe ask my nurse.

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