Promenade refurbishment work is down to the birds

Works starts on the new Connecting Eric scheme on Morecambe sea front. Picture by Paul Heyes, Monday May 11, 2015.
Works starts on the new Connecting Eric scheme on Morecambe sea front. Picture by Paul Heyes, Monday May 11, 2015.
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You can blame the birds for the promenade work which will continue into the height of the season.

Lancaster City Council has said the ongoing work which has ruffled a few feathers is to help preserve bird habitats.

We want to attract visitors not turn them away

Evelyn Archer

Dubbed ‘Connecting Eric’ the aim of the £210,000 project is to make better use of the central seafront either side of the Eric Morecambe statue.

Demolition has already started on the car park and play area between Eric on Marine Road Central.

But residents and local businesses are up in arms over the timing of the project, including Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust.

Evelyn said: “I can’t believe what I am seeing, I can’t believe they are doing it now.

“What on earth are they trying to do to Morecambe?

“We want to attract visitors not turn them away.”

Lancaster City Council has said the timing of the project is down to a timetable set out by Natural England, the government’s adviser on the natural environment.

A Lancaster City Council spokesman said: “Morecambe Bay is an incredibly important wildlife site of international importance for the numbers and species of birds that feed in the vast mud flats over winter.

“As part of considering a planning application for the project the council consulted Natural England and was advised that construction work so close to the shoreline should be undertaken 
between April and September in order to minimise disturbance to birds and so protect the rich biodiversity.”

Some are questioning the existence of the nesting promenade birds and whether they would have an effect on the project.

A local birdwatcher has said the promenade is “not exactly a great hot-spot for birds”.

Matt Fletcher also reacted to the news. He said: “Which of the two car parks are these ‘wintering birds’ meant to be nesting in then exactly?

“From what I can see there isn’t a single tree in the area to be redeveloped?”

Abby Bagnall said: “If Natural England feel that the overwintering birds would be disturbed by the building works then I agree it should be done outside of that period; there is precious little consideration usually given to other animals’ needs in this human-centric, money-orientated world.

“However, I don’t understand why these improvements are deemed necessary so soon after the promenade was last improved?”

The project, which is identified within the Morecambe Area Action Plan (MAAP), will include new pedestrian walkways forming a gateway to the town centre from the promenade to Euston Road.

A new improved children’s play facility adjacent to the Clock Tower toilets will replace the existing one.

The work will also include a new pull in for buses and coaches, car parking rationalised into one enlarged car park west of the Eric statue, better routes for pedestrians and improved flood defences.

Natural England outline areas which fall under Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs), meaning these should be surveyed for any risks to local wildlife. The work taking place in the resort falls under these areas.

Mark Cullinan, Lancaster City Council’s chief executive, said: “The project was subject to over three years of consultation and discussion with the public.

“We would encourage any businesses or residents that have concerns or comments to get in touch so we can provide more information on the project, the aim of which is to help businesses by increasing footfall to the town centre.”

Natural England were not available to comment at the time The Visitor went to press.