Published: February 3, 2013
Flat Holm island in the Bristol Channel looks set to go on sale

A familiar sight in the Bristol Channel just a few miles from Brean looks set to be placed on sale.

It has emerged this week that cash-strapped Cardiff Council, which owns and runs Flat Holm island as a tourist attraction, is considering selling it.

The council's financial cuts have led to it selling off a boat that takes visitors to the island in the summer months, thereby stopping any future visits and putting the island – or at least the 32 years remaining on the lease they hold – up for sale.

A consultation exercise on the island’s future has heard representations that Cardiff should team up with local authorities in Somerset to invest more in Flat Holm, but now Cardiff is putting the island up for sale, anybody could buy it.

"The visitor and income profile for Flat Holm demonstrates that demand for the island is highly concentrated in the summer months and is insufficient to cover the operating costs of the facility," states a council report.

"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 while options for disposal are explored."

Matthew Lipton, who has been living on Flat Holm as its warden for four years, said he hopes it would be sold to someone who would respect the "uniqueness" of the island.

"It's a cultural and historical site of importance, as well as for wildlife," he said. "It has a wide and varied history and we've done a lot of work to restore many parts of it. I just hope it doesn't all go to rack and ruin, and I hope a wildlife organisation might buy it."

The island has a farmhouse and in Victorian times was run by English families. Its sole claim to fame is being the location where Marconi made the first radio transmission across open water. It was also used as an isolation hospital for sailors arriving at Cardiff docks with cholera.

Ross Clifford, the island's education officer who helps school children visit the island, said it is an important place as it is used to teach children about history, nature, science and climate change.

"It's really important that the right person buys it - someone that has the right aims for the island and are not trying to make it into a commercial venture," he added.

A Cardiff Council spokesman said that no final decisions have yet been made, but anyone with an interest in the island should contact it.

The island is considered to be a part of Wales while Steep Holm, the smaller island closer to Brean Down, is part of England.


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