Save Roanhead's wildlife from development

A NEW planning application for a holiday resort at Roanhead has been submitted.

Together we had a big victory last year in stopping a new holiday park being built. The objections you sent to Westmorland & Furness Council along with the detailed responses sent by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the National Trust, Friends of the Lake District, and other wildlife conservation organisations put a stop to this damaging project.

Unfortunately, a new planning application has gone in, and we need your help to put a stop to the development again.  

Though there are differences in the new application, it will still damage wildlife and habitat in the area. Because of this we have not changed our opinion.

Our main concerns are:

  • The developers proposals to help reduce the impact of disturbance on wildlife will not work. They are inappropriate and insufficient. 

  • The development is not in the Local Plan. Councils make these plans to decide what will be built where. This includes what is best for people and for wildlife. This holiday resort is clearly in the wrong place.

  • It will be easy for the developer to change the holiday park plans later. This includes the space they have set aside for nature.

  • The added ban on dogs in the new application cannot be controlled. This means that they would need to stick to their word which is something that might not happen in the future.

The resort centre is the same size as it was in the last proposal except there are less lodges. This means there will be more day visitors using the facilities. If more people visit the site, it will have a bigger impact on nature at Sandscale Haws. It will also be difficult to stop day visitors from bringing dogs.

The holiday resort would also be built on farmland next to Sandscale Haws. The site is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) as part of the Duddon Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. How close the resort is to important habitats would be disastrous for all sorts of wildlife. You can see all the information about the wildlife at Sandscale Haws below.

Although there is another planning application in, you can help! We stopped the first application in its tracks, and we can do it again. 

Where can I see the holiday resort plans? >

Full details of the proposal are available on the developer’s website

View all the planning application documents on the local council planning hub website.

The planning application reference is B06/2024/0024.

Why is Sandscale Haws important? >

Sandscale Haws is an amazing sand dune habitat on the Duddon Estuary. The beach is home to a wide variety of rare plants, butterflies, and wildflowers. There is also an estimated 25% of the UK's natterjack toad population. Other amphibians found there including smooth, palmate, and great crested newts as well as the reptile the common lizard. Look for herons and little egrets feeding from the dune slack pools. 
Clouds of butterflies flitting silently through the sandhills in the summer. Dragonflies, such as the emperor and four-spotted chaser, hunt among the ponds and marshes. 

There are over 600 plant species recorded across the reserve. In the dune slacks, grass of parnassus and round-leaved wintergreen shine white. Dune specialist orchids including the northern marsh and coralroot can be found here. Low-growing sea holly is common, and delicate dune pansy glows purple across the area.

The mudflats and sandbanks are full of food for the birds. You can find ringed plovers, terns, turnstones, oystercatchers, skylarks, whitethroats and pipits here. Bird of prey collectively knwn as raptors include peregrines, buzzards, and hen harriers. The winter months are the best time to see birds in big numbers, with 70,000 knots, redshanks and dunlins feeding amid small flocks of sanderlings.

Roanhead also has some of the darkest skies in Cumbria. The light and disturbance from the large-scale resort will have a negative effect on nocturnal breeding natterjack toads.

Sandscale Haws is an IPA (Important Plant Area) meaning it’s a key site for a wide variety of plants. It’s also home to bats and owls. There are over 300 species of fungi found here! Over 70 species recorded on Sandscale Haws are on the English Red Data list of threatened species. 

This amazing place needs to be protected. Please tell Westmorland and Furness Council about these amazing and rare plants and animals. 

Why is this the wrong location for the holiday resort?  >

The holiday resort would be close to Sandscale Hawes Nature Reserve. Because of this, we know there will be disturbances which will have negative impacts on nature. Everything from light pollution to more traffic is not good for wildlife.

It will also be difficult to police dog walking in the area. Dogs negatively affect ground-nesting birds on the beach front. This is worse in nesting season (April to August). Heavier sewage in the area can also harm the important seagrass bed off the coast.

How would the development impact on wildlife? > 

Increased numbers of visitors and their dogs will put ground-nesting birds and rare plants at risk.  

We support the need for regeneration in Barrow-in-Furness and welcome new jobs and opportunities. However, development needs to be in harmony with nature. This important wildlife site should not suffer. Development is important, but nature does not need to be a victim. This is the wrong location for the holiday resort. It is too close to an important wildlife area. 

Help us to save one of the most critical areas for wildlife in Cumbria! The official deadline for responses is 24th February 2024. Westmorland & Furness Council will still accept written responses until it makes its decision on this planning application. 

You do not have to live in Cumbria to respond! If you care about the future of Cumbria's wildlife, you can have your say.  

Why do we care about natterjack toads? >

Natterjack toads are a rare and protected species. It is illegal to disturb or handle them without a license.  
Natterjack toads are legally protected because they are in decline. In the Northwest there are healthy populations. Away from here though, they cling on at just a handful of dunes in East Anglia and on sandy heaths in Surrey and Hampshire. Over half the UK’s natterjack breeding sites are in Cumbria. They are found in upper salt marsh areas, above the strand line and in sand dunes. 

Natterjack toads live in sandy habitats where they breed in shallow pools. They burrow in the sand to find shelter using their forelimbs to dig, sometimes up to sixty centimetres deep. The toad shelters there often alongside others before emerging at night to feed on moths, woodlice, and other insects.

After dark in springtime, up to several hundred males sing in chorus to attract mates. It is an amazing and unforgettable sound which is audible up to a mile away! 

Natterjack toad numbers are in decline because of habitat loss. Healthy sand dunes are one of the most threatened habitats in Europe. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is collaborating closely with partners to restore important sand dune habitats in Cumbria. 

Please tell Westmorland and Furness Council how important this habitat is for these rare and protected toads. 

How does the developer propose to avoid wildlife disturbance? >

Dogs can cause major disturbance to wildlife. It will be difficult for staff to check that day visitors to the resort are not bringing dogs and walking them on the beach. The increased footfall from day visitors as well as residents will also have an impact. These are issues Cumbria Wildlife Trust is familiar with from another nature reserve. South Walney has seen increased disturbance levels. We know that people sometimes do not accept advice about their own behaviour. Sometimes people might not know the effect their dog has on wildlife. It is important for protected areas to stay protected, meaning we need strong rules to prevent harm.