Parking plans to relieve congestion at Northumberland coastal hotspot attract criticism

Proposed parking plans to alleviate congestion at a coastal hotspot have been criticised for their environmental impact.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 8:55 am

Residents of Dunstan Steads in Embleton have now launched a bid to save a short strip of leafy lane which backs on to fields and sand dunes by getting it listed as a village green.

Several measures are being planned by Northumberland County Council to help the area cope with the expected influx of summer visitors.

A county council spokesperson said: “Last summer saw unprecedented visitor numbers in the county, particularly along the coast, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

The narrow road to Dunstan Steads and Embleton beach.

“This brought with it increased traffic and the resultant parking problems that can arise.

“Dunstan Steads is no exception and the county council has been working closely with local members, Embleton Parish Council and other partner organisations to address some of these issues ahead of this summer, while also still seeking to ensure we create a welcoming environment to visitors.

“As a result we are doing two things. Firstly double yellow lines have been laid down on a stretch of this road.

"Secondly we are planning hardening works to strengthen the grassed verge, which is already used for parking and is often damaged as a result, and to help ensure vehicles don't obstruct the highway when parking in this location so that access can be maintained for agricultural operations and the emergency services. The verge hardening works do not aim to provide additional parking capacity, but better and more safely manage the existing parking taking place.

Residents are concerned the proposed verge works will impact on wildlife.

“This work is part of a larger multi-agency approach to take forward a broad range of measures across Northumberland to help manage visitor numbers into the county in what is expected to be a very busy summer.”

However, a petition has been launched by the ‘Friends of Dunstan Steads’ who claims the verge works will impact on barn owls, red squirrel, bats and a hedgerow fill of wild flowers.

Local resident Ian Ross said: “We are in the AONB and right next to legally protected special areas - SSSI, SAC, SPA and Ramsar dunes and coastline.

"We expect NCC to properly consider the impact on these areas. There are protected species living and feeding in this lane and we are anxious that NCC are paying sufficient attention to our significant concerns.”

Another resident, Julia Robson, added: “With so much being done to make people aware of global warming, why aren’t Northumberland County Council conserving green space for wildlife not cars?”

Judy Turnbull said: “Walkers are often forced into the road because the grass is parked up. It’s only a matter of time before a reversing car runs over a child or an ambulance can’t reach the beach. The road is very narrow and there are log jams in the summer when it is busy, with cars ending up reversing for long distances.”

Monica Cornall, who lives at Dunstan Steads and is on Embleton Parish Council, questions why parking was not designated for a safer and less sensitive area in Embleton village, which would at least benefit local businesses.

She said: “This is setting a poor precedent for Northumberland – that walkers, cyclists, and nature can ‘go to hell in a handcart’ so long as motorists can park wherever they like.”

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