The Future of Flat Holm Island, an update

Flat Holm Island, sunset and sustainable development

Flat Holm Island, sunset and sustainable development

In February this year Cardiff Council announced its intention to withdraw funding the running of Flat Holm Island and seek other parties or individuals to take over the day to day operational management of the island.   Since then the Flat Holm Society have actively engaged with the Council and put forward a request that the Council continued to keep the island open for this summer period to allow time for organisations interested in taking on the running of Flat Holm to formulate management proposals.

In May, Cardiff Council formally advertised for expressions of interest (EOI) from organisations interested in taking on the operational management of Flat Holm.  In response the Flat Holm Society submitted an EOI and is currently awaiting a meeting with the council to discuss their submission.

The society is seeking support from people who have skills in the following areas:

  • General Management and / or Conservation Management
  • Marketing
  • Financial Management
  • Community Knowledge and Partnership working
  • Managing Assets
  • Human Resources
  • Business Planning
  • Legal
  • Fund Raising

If you have skills in any of the above areas and can offer your time to help us secure the future of Flat Holm please email:

Voices for a Small Island

FH IslandOur “Voices for a Small Island” poetry and story telling evening aboard the light ship in Cardiff Bay was a huge success. The sell-out event kicked off with a selection of island inspired poems read by our very own Bridget Box. Elinor Knapp followed with her atmospheric tales and poems set to sounds from the ocean.

Phillip Gross, double TS Elliot prize winner, read a collection of his poems taken from his book ” The Water Table”, his poems evoked memories of Flat Holm and reflected upon the changing, yet reassuring waters, of the Bristol Channel.

Richard Berry provided us with some very humorous and interactive stories and our very own, Andrea Griffiths, read a beautiful poem that she found when researching island poems.

As the evening drew to a close the audience were treated to excerpts from the stage show Titanic. The readings and music from the show were incredibly moving, all of this set in the wonderful setting of the Light Ship made it a very evocative and emotional performance.

Bridget brought the evening’s performances to a close with a final poem that explored how sleeping on an island can change a person for life, something that many of our members were able to relate to.

Peter Sampson was a very entertaining Master of Ceremonies for the evening and much thanks goes to him and Linda Burnell, who provided the inspiration for the evening and brought it to a reality. Many thanks are also given to all the performers who gave their time and made the evening very special. Finally we would like to extend a massive thank you to Helen Crane and Chris Debono from the Cardiff Light Ship, who were able to provide the fantastic setting for us and plenty of delicious cakes, tea and coffee.

Proposal to Save Flat Holm Island

Pircure of Flat Holm Island Light House

Flat Holm Island Light House

The Flat Holm society has been working hard behind the scenes talking to the council and other organisations about the future of Flat Holm Island. We have submitted a proposal to the Council indicating that we want to start the process of forming a trust to run the Flat Holm.  We are also in discussions with a number of organisations who have expressed an interest in getting involved.  The proposal was able to highlight that there is strong opposition to closing the island outright with the 3,500 plus signatures we have received on the online petition.

We need the Council to agree to continue funding the island for a number of months to enable us to put plans in place that would enable the island to stay open to members of the public, with the Flat Holm Trust taking on the day to day operations.

Picture of Oystercatchers on Flat Holm Island

Oystercatchers on Flat Holm Island

Cardiff Councillors are formally voting, about the future of Flat Holm, on the 28th February 2013. We hope they accept our proposal and grant us the transition time to start the process. We hope that the Island will be fully funded during that time, which we expect will be between now and September. That being the case, the Island will be able to gain some income from visitors over the summer and can be fully managed by the present staff.

There will be information about the current situation, post 28th Feb, at our AGM on 7th March at the Norwegian Church. We hope to see many of you there.

While we await the outcome of this please do continue to show your support for our campaign. If you live within the Cardiff areas please write to your local Councillors and AMs encouraging them to support our proposal that was submitted to Cllr Huw Thomas.  If you have not already done so please sign our online petition and if you would like to hear the latest news about our campaign please follow us on our Save Flat Holm island Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Thank you!

The Flat Holm Society Committee

Petition generates overwhelming support to Save Flat Holm Island

The Society has been delighted and very moved by the amount of support that has been received over the last few days since Cardiff Council’s proposed budget cuts came to light.  With over 350 likes on our “Save Flat Holm Island” Facebook page and a staggering 1,635 signatures on our online petition the response from the public has been overwhelming.

Amongst other cuts the council is proposing to “Cease Operation of Flatholm Island and Consider Options for Disposal”.

In the interest of openness and transparency, public are being invited to have their say on Cardiff Council’s budget proposals via an online survey. The next step of our campaign to Save Flat Holm Island is for as many of our supporters as possible to complete this survey and let your thoughts about Flat Holm Island’s future be heard.

If the council does choose to dispose of the island it is very important that it falls into the hands of suitable custodians to protect and preserve it for future generations.

Flat Holm Island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Local Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area, due to the maritime grassland and rare plants such as Rock Sea-Lavender, Wild Leek and Wild Peony. During spring and summer the island is also home to a significant breeding colony of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Flat Holm is also home to slow worms, thought to be endemic to the island, common lizards and Peregrine Falcons. Historical features on the island include the remains of a cholera hospital and Victorian and WWII gun batteries.

If the island were to fall into the wrong hands we would lose not only a very important conservation area but a valuable environmental learning resource for young people and community groups in Cardiff and the surrounding areas. The effect a couple of nights on the Island has on children, for example, is amazing! The Island team really get the kids exploring the natural environment, they also focus on getting the children to think about their energy and water usage which, of course, an Island is ideal for.

We are quite sure that Cardiff is the only City in the UK with an Island resource like this on its doorstep and it would be a terrible shame if it were lost completely.

Please make your feelings known by completing Cardiff Council’s survey:

If you haven’t already done so please also sign the online petition at:

If you can offer us practical hands on support with our campaign please contact us.

You can also keep track of the latest campaign news on the “Save Flat Holm Island” Facebook page and also via our normal Flat Holm Website and Flat Holm Society Facebook pages.


Cardiff Council propose to “Cease Operation of Flat Holm Island”

We have received some very worrying news that has come out of yesterday’s Cardiff Council committee meeting. One of the proposals in the Council’s proposed budget savings is to “Cease Operation of Flatholm Island and Consider Options for Disposal”. There will be a Council meeting on Thur 28th Feb to decide the future of Flat Holm Island.

There will be a proposal put forward to find an alternative method of operation, other than through the Council, to run the Island. A decision will be taken, to take effect from 31st March 2013.

David Westerland, who is covering Natalie Taylor’s maternity leave, will be speaking at the FHS AGM on 7th March and will be able to inform members of the outcome of the meeting.

If there is any more information about this proposal, we will let you know.

The extract from the Council’s Savings document reads:

Cease Operation of Flatholm Island and Consider Options for Disposal – the visitor and income profile for Flatholm demonstrates that demand for the island is highly concentrated in the summer months and is insufficient to cover the operating costs of the facility. It is proposed to cease all visits to the island, and dispose of the island to a third party with no further Council involvement. Visits to the island could be ceased promptly whilst options for disposal are explored. The budget saving reflects retention of a small contingency for service visits during closure. The proposal also includes the disposal of the Lewis Alexander, the vessel currently used to service the island which has increasing costs associated with keeping it serviceable and licensed due to age. If minded to retain some operation of the Island whilst disposal is explored and effected, revision of operations so that visits and overnight stays are only facilitated in the summer could be implemented saving the lower amount of £100k, with visitor access provided by partner commercial boat operators, with emergency/service visits by

Council staff facilitated through the Harbour Authority’s “survey vessel””

If you feel strongly against this proposal please please please voice your concerns directly to the Council and please also sign the online petition at:

You can also keep track of the latest campaign news on the “Save Flat Holm Island” Facebook page and also via our normal Flat Holm Website and Flat Holm Society Facebook pages.

Thank you for your support

FHS Chair & Committee

Enjoy a quiet break away… in a fog horn cottage?

mat in fh kichenIt’s been a long journey, but we are finally seeing the finishing touches on one of Flat Holm’s most treasured buildings, the Fog Horn Cottage.

Originally opened in 1906, the Cottage has been in a state of decay for almost 30 years. The renovation of the cottage has been taking place in dribs and drabs for the past decade, and over the last two years a concerted effort has been made to completely restore this unique building.FH cottage kitchen

The Flat Holm society has fully supported the restoration by various donations of funds and through practical hands on work by society members on many working days and weekends.

A very special thanks to all the island volunteers, members of the Flat Holm Society, Bob and Lee and not to forget all of the island wardens, especially Matt, for his determination! It looks amazing, and it will be a cosy home for anyone wanting a weekend away or a holiday with a difference!  Everyone who has been involved in the restoration project should be very proud of this significant achievement.FH cottage vols

More information about the cottage will be available soon, however, in the meantime anyone interested in finding out more about how to hire the cottage for a weekend break or holiday should contact the Flat Holm Project Office.

Gull Ringing on the Rock

Bird ringing is an important part of the monitoring of the movements of our birdlife.

Each year, with the help of the Cardiff Bird Ringers, 100 of the Lesser Black-backed gull chicks are ringed.

The birds are not harmed in any way by the placing of an identity ring on the legs of the young birds.   We know that the Lesser Black-backed gulls from the island go on to places like Morocco Southern Spain and Portugal for the winter.  Many of them return to the island in March each year. By monitoring their movements like this gives the BTO, who monitor the gulls, information on the effects of changes in the environment.

The bird ringers are all very aware of the effects of their handling of the young birds.  The chicks seemed to become quite calm when being handled and were returned to their nest sites without harm. The rings are all attached in such a way as not to impede their natural needs and lives.

Peter Samson.

Gull Ringing on the Rock – Part 2

This year society members Linda, Peter and Jo travelled out to the island with the Cardiff Ringers and Warden, Matt Lipton, on a glorious July morning. Sadly the Lewis Alexander was out of action but on the plus side we travelled very quickly across the very calm channel by rib. We were met on the jetty by Assistant Warden, Ross Clifford, and Volunteer’s Jamie and Sarah.

Important things first we started our task in hand with a brew in the Farmhouse while we worked out a plan of action for the task ahead. We split into two groups and got kitted out in overalls and hard hats. Each group took a section of the Gull colony and fifty BTO and Darvic Plastic rings. The BTO rings are made from metal and the Darvic rings are numbered plastic rings which can be read in the field, Ringing aims to increase understanding about what is happening to birds in the places they live and how this affects population increases and decreases, this knowledge is vital for conservation. It also gives information on the movements individual birds make and how long many live for.

We then spent the next few hours being mobbed by the adult gulls who are, understandably, very protective of their chicks. Getting mobbed by a gull colony is quite an experience and it soon becomes very clear why the overalls and hard hats are needed as the adults, swoop, dive bomb and poop all over you!

Catching the chicks can be quite difficult as they tend to make straight for the undergrowth which on the island consists mainly of nettles and brambles. Once caught the chicks are taken to the licensed ringers for the rings to be fitted around their legs. The chicks are then returned to the nest site

The day ended with a super fast and somewhat choppy and wet ride back to Cardiff on the rib – amazing fun!

If you are interested in taking part in future conservation work on the island please use our Contact Us form.

Jo Morgan


Working Open Day Announced

Join us on the 2nd September 2012 when we are holding a working open day on Flat Holm where you will be able to experience hands on island life by helping out for the day. The day will be rounded off with a BBQ and lots of fun and games.

The boat will leave Barrage South at 06:45. We will leave Flat Holm at 18:10.

The cost is £15 per person and includes the boat trip to the island and BBQ.

The day will give you hands on experience of what it is like to be a member of the society and will give you plenty of opportunity to meet other society members and the island staff and volunteers.  Previous years jobs have included: painting the fog horn station building, re-pointing walls, dry stone walling, vegetation clearance, building a chicken coup and other general DIY tasks. There will be a list of tasks suited to all levels of skills and ability and you can choose which one/s you feel like helping out with.  There will also be plenty of time to explore the island and take a guided tour.

Places are limited and are expected to fill up very quickly!!!!  If you would like to book please use our contact us form to let us know how many people you would like to reserve spaces for and we will send you details of how to pay.  Payment must be recieved by the 15th August to secure your place on the boat.

Flat Holm Plays Host to Most Southerly Jubilee Beacon in Wales

Flat Holm Island played host to one of 4000 Jubilee beacons across the UK to Mark the Queen’s 60 year reign.

The Wardens and Volunteers living on the island gathered an impressive amount of wood and the beacon was clearly visible from the South Wales coastline.

The beacon hit the headlines for being the most Southerly beacon in Wales.