Ecosulis
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Case Studies

Tourism & Leisure

Project Name:
Siblyback Lake - Cable Ski
Client:
SW Lakes
Year:
Mar 02, 2011
Keywords:
AONB, Screening, Consultation
Summary:
South West Lakes (SW Lakes) had lodged a planning application to install and operate a cable ski system at Siblyback Lake, Bodmin, Cornwall. The cable ski is a ...

South West Lakes (SW Lakes) had lodged a planning application to install and operate a cable ski system at Siblyback Lake, Bodmin, Cornwall. The cable ski is a pulley system that is erected within the lake capable of pulling persons around on various types of water sports equipment.   The proposed scheme was part of wider development aspirations including new and refurbish visitor facilities (the site is already used for sailing and other water sports).

Post to the submission of the planning application the local planning authority (LPA) had verbally indicated that the scheme would require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  Our client was concerned this would damage project viability both financially and in terms of the proposed construction start date.

Ecosulis’s first activity was to carefully prepare a Screening Request for submission to the LPA. The proposed scheme fell within section 12.a (of Schedule 2) of the EIA Regulations - ’Tourism and leisure ‘Ski-runs, ski-lifts and cable-cars and associated developments’.  Projects within 12a should be screened for EIA when the application site is greater than one hectare in size. 

The proposed scheme was just over a hectare in size and located with the Bodmin Moor Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). AONBs are defined as sensitive sites within the EIA Regulations.  The combination of size and location meant the scheme did potentially require an EIA.

Our Screening Request carefully reviewed the nature of the development, the potential for environmental effects and the location/visibility of the scheme within the AONB.  We concluded that the scheme would only generate slight impacts due to construction and operation.  Our evaluation went onto conclude that these effects were of low complexity and small-scale, confined within the proposed footprint. Furthermore that they were primarily one off events, preventable or reversible, and therefore are matters can be dealt with as part of the planning application (and the subsequent management of the facility) and not of sufficient magnitude or complexity to warrant the level of study necessitated by EIA.

To support the suggestion that EIA was not required we committed (with the agreement of SW Lakes) to supply suitable environmental information to support the application. This included detailed information on baseline conditions, potential effects and mitigation.  Ecosulis went onto manage the design and supply of the following:

  • Ecological and protected species surveys
  • Landscape and visual assessment
  • Operational noise assessment

Within the statutory three weeks the LPA formally directed that EIA was not required for the scheme and went onto approve all of the environmental information.  The landscape and visual served to demonstrate that due to existing uses of the lake, the nature of the development and considered siting the operation of the scheme would not adversely affect the AONB.

The project is a great example of working closely with clients and LPAs to build consensus behind a scheme.  It is our experience that for most projects clear, timely focused consultation with LPAs greatly reduces consenting risks and development stage costs.  For this project Cornwall County Council, when satisfied with the approach, became very proactive and supportive.

With the pre-application consultation again being promoted as important tool within the National Planning Policy Framework we are well placed to advise on how to increase planning certainty. 

Client Testimonial   

Ecosulis were appointed initially to reverse a verbal opinion from the Local Authority that our cable ski scheme need an EIA.  Ecosulis quickly secured an EIA screening direction confirming that although the development was within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) it was not likely to result in significant environmental effects and that EIA was not required.  Ecosulis then went on to undertake ecological surveys, a landscape and visual assessment and a BS4142 noise assessment in support of a planning application.  Ecosulis were professional and helpful at all stages of the process, and were able to balance the aims of our development with the protection of the natural environment; this was especially important to us as a leisure and conservation charity, after all our strap line is conservation and leisure working together." Head of Resource Planning, South West Lakes Trust 

 

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