Councillor calls for sense of proportion

Holy Island Causeway Incident 30/07/2011.
Holy Island Causeway Incident 30/07/2011.

A CALL has been made for a ‘sense of proportion’ ahead of a crunch meeting later this month to tackle a rising tide of motorists becoming stuck on the Holy Island causeway.

So far this year, 15 drivers have ended up at the mercy of the sea after attempting to beat incoming waves which cut off the island twice a day.

The most recent was on Saturday afternoon, when a car became stranded more than 90 minutes after the causeway had closed, sparking a rescue by the RAF Boulmer helicopter and Seahouses inshore lifeboat.

That has led to renewed calls for action to be taken to prevent further incidents and Northumberland County Council has arranged a special public meeting to take place on the island later this month.

But Norham and Islandshires councillor Dougie Watkin says many of the solutions which have been suggested are beset with problems.

And he says the number of rescues compared to the volume of people who safely visit the island each year has to be taken into consideration.

“Since the causeway opened in 1954, there has not been a single injury, not diminishing the role of the RNLI,” said Coun Watkin. “There has to be a sense of proportion here, considering 250,000 people are using that causeway every year and around 20 of them are getting stuck.

“Stopping that from happening is a complicated thing to deal with. If you install barriers, people would

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just drive around them, unless you fence off the causeway itself. Then you have the danger of trapping people on it.

“There are also times when the water doesn’t totally clear from the causeway and people have to drive through it, otherwise the island would be cut off for a week.”

The meeting takes place at St Cuthbert’s United Reform Church on August 23, at a time to be announced – depending on the tides.

l A campaign has been launched to stop cars using the causeway at high tide. You can view it at http://www.digitaldemocracy.org.uk/campaigns/3951