Road to the new 'Spurn island' to be rebuilt

Saved from the elements: Village cut off by storm will be reunited with mainland
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The Independent Online
ROS WYNNE-JONES

The remote community of Spurn Head, Humberside, which effectively became an island four days ago when severe weather ravaged the road that unites it with the mainland, is to have the vital link restored.

Residents feared that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which owns the land, would become frustrated in its fight against the invading sea after the Head was cut off for the fourth time in 15 years on Tuesday when 320 metres of road was dramatically washed away.

Their concerns were backed up when marine experts advised the local council that the five-mile peninsula, which is just ten metres across at some points and 300 metres at its widest, should be left to the elements after coastal defence strategies were found to be affecting land further up the coast.

But now it seems that the 22 people who live out on Spurn Head, at the spit's furthest reach, will get their way. Dave Steenvoorden, who has twin 13-year-old boys attending school 16 miles away on the mainland, said the decision will save the community and wants the road link re- established as quickly as possible.

All seven families on Spurn belong to the lifeboat men who keep watch over the arterial shipping route beyond.

Children were yesterday enjoying an enforced day off school, beachcombing Spurn's three-and-a- half miles of nature reserve - visited by thousands of rare migrating birds each year - as their parents worked to restore water pipelines.

"We often feel as if we're the only part of Scotland in England, we're that remote," says Mr Steenvoorden, who was trapped on a lifeboat by the weather from midnight on Sunday until 3pm on Tuesday. "With the road gone, life has become very difficult." The families of Spurn are used to extreme circumstances, he adds. "Life here is hard, but never boring."

Tim Collins, Spurn Heritage Coast Officer, agrees with other experts that Spurn Head's problems began when hard defences were set up in 1850 to prevent coastal erosion.

"Spurn Head should be a dynamic area of coast, changing as nature allows it, but because it has been protected over the years it is now in an artificial state. We need imaginative, radical solutions," he said.

"We could look at a hovercraft system operating like a bus service, low tide crossing like on Holy Island, or building the spit back where nature would have taken it by taking the sand up the coast and rebuilding the road on the new spit.

"None of these are inexpensive options, but they would save money in the long run and be innovative."

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