Natural Special effects - 2016
To die for images taken from and on and © of Burgh Island in August 2016
Causing a storm in 2014!
Agatha Christie island and the divisive solar plot
Residents of Devon holiday spot favoured by crime author are up in arms over 'monstrous' plan to cover the hotel's tennis court with reflective panels.
A remote island that inspired some of Agatha Christie’s best-known novels could be used as a site for 200 solar panels. The crime author wrote books such as And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun while staying on secluded Burgh Island in south Devon.
Now the owners have submitted a planning application to install 200 solar panels on the island. The application says that panels will be installed on a former tennis court and surrounded by a hedge that shields them from sight. But residents who live a few hundred yards away on the mainland contend that when they look out to sea they will be dazzled by reflected sun.
Burgh Island is approximately 270 yards from Bigbury-on-Sea. Tourists can walk out to the island at low tide or can be driven across by tractor. The coastal retreat has only three buildings and is dominated by the Burgh Island Hotel whose former guests include Christie, Noël Coward and The Beatles.
In papers submitted to South Hams district council, Deborah Clark and Tony Orchard, the owners, say their electricity costs have spiralled by 40 per cent in recent years. The 25-room Art Deco hotel, which opened in 1929, relies on an electricity supply from the mainland as well as expensive oil and bottled gas.
The owners say they considered fitting wind turbines or rooftop solar panels but decided to cover a former tennis court with panels made of “dark grey non-reflective glass”. They say the devices will produce 49.8kw – a 10th of the hotel’s electricity requirement – and will not be visible from the hotel, or from the east, south and north-west.
However Tony Porter, the island’s former owner, who is leading local opposition, said the panels would “spoil” the area, which is visited by thousands of holidaymakers every year.
Bea and Tony Porter, Tony is kindly dedicating his book to us - and we stayed for lunch!
Mr Porter, who sold the island in 2001, said: “We are horrified that this application has been lodged. We spent 16 years doing everything we could to restore it to its former beauty. Now this green island sleeping in the sun is going to be scarred by this horrible shiny thing. It will visible from miles away. It is going to glint in the sun and spoil the whole thing.”
Four objections have been received to date by the council, including one from Hubert Ashton of Folly Hill, which overlooks the island. He said: “This would be a monstrous carbuncle on an old friend. It would be ruinous for the beauty of the island.” The council is holding a meeting on Nov 12 to hear residents’ views about the proposal. Stuart Watts, the chairman of Bigbury parish council, said he thought it would be rejected. He said: “As a feature, the island is known around the world. So this is bound to prove controversial and stir up a huge amount of interest.”
John Chalmers, of the South Hams Society, said what was needed was a “practical and not an emotive view”. He added: “It is a totemic site but nevertheless the actual harm caused must be considered fairly minimal compared with other sites where you see a whole sea of panels.” Ms Clark and Mr Orchard, who say they have lovingly restored and conserved the Grade II-listed hotel for 13 years, were overseas yesterday and unavailable for comment – however their application letter urged planners to ignore “vexatious” objections. They wrote: “We are well aware that any proposals on the island will lead to objections, including possible vexatious ones, but we hope that you will see fit to grant the necessary consents.”
Page updated : 29th August 2016