Arrival of traffic sign near Holy Island sparks row

A COUNCIL that refuses to let a Northumberland tourist attraction have roadside advertising has put a sign on the site's land - without its owner's permission.

The warning sign at the Holy Island Causeway
The warning sign at the Holy Island Causeway

A COUNCIL that refuses to let a Northumberland tourist attraction have roadside advertising has put a sign on the site's land - without its owner's permission.

Northumberland County Council has refused to allow The Barn at Beal near Holy Island to have signs up, but has now put one on the farming attraction’s land without asking for consent.

Barn owner Rod Smith last night branded the move a “slap in the face” and accused the council of double standards.

The authority, which put up a variable message sign close to the Holy Island causeway on Saturday, insisted it had told Natural England, which leases the land from Mr Smith, and said its sign did not need planning permission.

The sign is there for two weeks on a trial basis to warn drivers not to cross the causeway outside safe times.

The first Mr Smith knew of the sign being placed on his land was when he discovered it was there while walking later on Saturday. He contacted Natural England and says staff there told him they had not been approached about it being put there.

The sign is around two metres by two metres, bigger than those the council has refused Mr Smith permission for, and illuminated, which the businessman claims is normally forbidden in the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Mr Smith has accused the council of “double standards” and says he would not have allowed the sign to be put on his land if the authority had asked, given its stance on his efforts to advertise. He is calling for a letter of apology.

Mr Smith said: “This is not only a slap in the face to me because of the council’s stance on my signs but to put a sign on my property without consent is appalling. It is shocking how the council thinks it can do what it wants, without any consultation.”

Mr Smith is considering applying again for permission for advertising signs for his venture.

In 2008, he put one up before a planning application for it was decided by the now defunct Berwick Borough Council, with that bid eventually refused. Mr Smith appealed, but lost and had to take the sign down.

Then the attraction put up the sign on the back of a cart at the side of the A1 but on the second day of it being in place, the council served a notice on Mr Smith ordering him to remove it.

A council spokesperson said: “Natural England have been kept informed throughout the process.

“Also, with regard to the signs themselves, the following regulations apply: Traffic signs (as defined in section 64(1) of the Road and Traffic Regulation Act 1984) are one of the categories of signs that are excluded from direct control, Under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007, and therefore do not need specific advertisement consent from the Local Planning Authority.”

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