I know I do. I also know I like to walk parts of the Cornish coast path regularly and when I get to Whipsiderry Beach and stand and look out across the cliffs there, I enjoy watching (as do many others) the nesting fulmars and occasional puffins that fly and call to one another beneath my grounded feet.
When I stop there at the top of those wild and wonderful cliffs my last thought would be to build a house here. That’s because I respect the natural beauty and structure and power of these cliffs and the habitats that they house to the wildlife enough not to allow greed to step in the way. I could never imagine building my dream home here if it meant destruction to the wildlife and uncertainty of my safety.
There are others who feel as I do, and they’ve headed down the beach every day to protest against the destructive work that’s taking place here.
“I’ve only just moved to Newquay… and Whipsiderry is the most magical and wild that hasn’t been spoilt yet and now they’re going to do it. For no good reason, just money. As for the wildlife, all these birds are protected but they’re clearly not…they’re not being protected, look.” a quote from a passionate lady who pointed up at the cliffs as the digger started up and the fulmars fled in distress.
“…It’s one of the only beaches around where you feel this sense of wildness and freedom…what would be so lovely is if someone had bought that land and decided to do something for the community and make it into a beautiful spot that you could sit and see the view but it just feels like this is all about money and greed. It’s just devastating.” says Jess, a mother of two, whose family’s favourite beach is Whipsiderry.
I could have a luxury modern flat right here in this spot with an incredible view as advertised in the leaflet for these apartments called ‘The View’, but they won’t show me the ugly concrete plastering they are planning to drill the cliffs with to ‘stabilise’ them. Did you know that water naturally filters through these cliffs and if concrete was to get in the way it’d create a damming effect and explode the cliff from the inside. That certainly isn’t in the brochure they’ve released. I’d be ignorant if I were to purchase a house here and not be curious to how they’ve gone about building it; just sit with my eyes shut, wincing as the diggers hack at the cliffs and destroy the Fulmar’s nests “Is it done yet?”.
“It ain’t nesting season for another month.” Was the response of a security person for the property developers as the hundreds of fulmars swooped and squawked in distress above him.
In fact, how would I, a first-time buyer, be able to afford one of the seven flats up for sale at £1 million each? Due to natural coastal erosion, these flats won’t last more than 100 years, meaning any buyer will not likely be able to mortgage these properties and thus will be cash buyers. That won’t be me or any local I know of. It’d have to be second home buyers who won’t spend more than a week here.
On Saturday 18th February, around 200 of upset locals gathered at the top of these precious cliffs to protest the £1 million flat property development.
Despite it being a successful turnout of an angry community coming together to protect our coastline, the developer’s work didn’t seem to be disrupted. As Monday unfolded, the crane lowered down the first hired digger that seemed to impersonate a rather unnatural bird swaying down the cliff face. Their unwarranted hacking of the cliffs began, and the fulmars fled, once again, in distress.
Since the authorisation from The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) was granted to the property developers, they have breached conditions in their contract which didn’t go unnoticed by the public, resulting in our outrage:
Ref: 5.2.15 – “Equipment and heavy machinery must use a working corridor across the beach to access the site of works.”
Ref: 5.2.17 – “No works can take place if nesting fulmar are present.”
Somehow, our presence just outside the allocated working area means the work is halted until we leave. But we won’t. We are going to have a picnic down here, make art, have a chat, dance, sing, meditate, every day until something is done, and Tuesday 21st February was the first day that the power of community was evident as no work had been carried out and the unsteady digger was flown back to the top of the cliff.
You can listen to an audio link of this story here.