National park authority joins objectors to ‘dazzling’ ferry sign

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Wightlink
Residents have complained about being dazzled by the LED sign at the Wightlink ferry terminal in Lymington

A “DAZZLING” sign at Lymington ferry terminal is being opposed by the national park authority and parish councillors who accuse Wightlink of using it to beam adverts more than giving passengers information.

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Outlining their objections to a retrospective application by the company to keep the 2.2-metre by 2.9-metre panel the company erected in August last year, Boldre parish councillors called it “intrusive”, pointing out that it causes “extra light pollution”.

The council said the terminal was on a “sensitive edge of the conservation area close to neighbouring houses” and the LED sign was “not deemed necessary and is quite unacceptable”.

They said that rather than relay up-to-date news on ferry crossings as well as control queuing at the site in Undershore Road, as Wightlink claim, “much of the content appears to be advertisements rather than information of benefit to the passengers”.

Residents living opposite the terminal say the sign is so bright it shines into their homes even when they keep their curtains closed.

Their concerns have also been backed by the New Forest National Park Authority, which is objecting to the application on the grounds that the screen will have an “adverse impact upon the darkness and tranquillity of the national park”.

In a letter to New Forest District Council, which is the planning authority, it says the sign lights “too large an area” and has an “impact on the dark skies of the national park”.

Further, the NPA claims: “The illumination of this screen is of such intensity that it lights a large area across the existing car park and queuing area, towards the national park.

“The screen adds materially to the existing light emissions from the ferry terminal, and there is a consequent impact upon the dark skies of the national park.”

It points out that its Local Plan says: “New development should avoid, or provide mitigation measures, if the proposal will lead to noise, visual intrusion, nuisance and other unacceptable environmental impacts on the national park and its special qualities.

“This should include reducing the impacts of light pollution on the ‘dark skies’ of the national park and control of development to prevent artificial lighting from eroding rural darkness and tranquillity. Development proposals that seek to remove visually intrusive man-made structures from the landscape will be supported.”

Four nearby residents are objecting to the application, with one demanding that Wightlink be ordered to stop using the sign immediately until the application is resolved.

He said: “They are clearly in breach of planning regulations by erecting the sign without any permission.

“It has been an absolute blight to those of us living opposite, it shines into our homes even with the curtains closed and is a complete light nuisance.

“Our lives have been made a complete misery by this sign which we believe was erected to show adverts rather than for any other purpose. Now the NPA and the parish council have objected we feel we are finally getting somewhere.”

Another resident said: “Before the current retrospective application, they [Wightlink] continued to operate the screen for several months, claiming erroneously to the media that they had planning permission.

“The screen itself faces directly towards neighbouring properties. Its brightness and flickering display are intrusive, especially during hours of darkness, both to neighbours and also to the character of the national park, into which it shines directly.

“Moreover, the display features more commercial adverts than ferry information, leading to a conviction that its primary purpose is to generate income for Wightlink, rather than a useful source of information to those using the ferry which has operated successfully for over 100 years without it.”

Another resident complained: “This is a further example of the increasing light pollution caused by the ferry terminal. The light changing at random intervals is very disturbing and causes mental anxieties.”

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