This is Brownfield

Bakersfield, the brownfield site at the end of my road which was home to hedgehogs, little owls, nightingales, lizards, snakes and turtle doves have been destroyed. I tried to stop it, I couldn’t, but the fact that I tried, helps. Please watch this video and write to McCulloch Homes and Bioscan to condemn their actions.

Loyalty is not always a good thing.

nightingale

nightingale copyright Petra Karstedt https://www.flickr.com/photos/insecta62/

Last night on BBC’s Springwatch I learnt why loyalty is not always such a good thing. A nightingale, it turns out, flies from Africa in the spring back to exactly the same bush in England it left from the previous year. No wonder nightingales in our country are doing so badly.

The nightingale currently breeding in the scrub at Bakersfield at the end of my road will be one of the losers next spring. He will fly back to his favourite spot to find that it has been turned into a building site. So, I fear, will many others.

In the current rush to throw up as many houses as possible, in the current rush to sweep away planning restrictions, in the current rush to destroy all brownfield sites many of our countries nightingales will lose their territories.

In this country we have tree preservation orders, protection for trees which are special. Why can’t we have the same thing for the places that are so important for one of our most iconic birds? Why can’t we have nightingale territory preservation orders? Extra protection for the trees which are important to them.

It will never happen of course because we fail to see beyond our anthropocentric world view. Tree preservation orders protect trees which are important to us because they are beautiful to our eye or important for our history. Our first national parks protected landscapes considered to be attractive by the people choosing them.

But what’s good for wildlife is not always what is good for our eye. Scrub is often not beautiful, wet grassland is not beautiful, brownfield is not beautiful. If only we could shift our thinking to protect not just the pretty but the pretty damn important then our countries wildlife and in turn our own lives, would be richer for it.

Always another fight.

Always another fight.

how many meds

Burntwick Island, a great place to land a sea plane……Not!

I feel these days there is a never ending stream of battles to fight. No sooner do you breathe a small sigh of relief at the squashing of one scheme poised to damage the places you love then another comes along. It wears you down, but I guess that’s the point.

On Thursday by accident I hear of a proposal to begin a sea plane business in the Medway Estuary. The guy shows me the map of where the planes are planning to land, between the breeding tern colony on Burntwick Island and the RSPB reserve of Normarsh. This area is a RAMSAR site rightly protected as one of the most important places for breeding and overwintering waders and wildfowl in the country.  Peel Ports are running a consultation I am told but I am amazed that the proposals have even reached this stage.

I call my friends, Medway Swale Estuary Partnership, the RSPB, Countryside professionals in Medway Council. None of them have heard of these plans. So just who is being consulted?

Having raised the alarm things swing into action. The conservation bodies who protect this area begin to add their voices to the consultation.

“Well done you, for making people aware of this,” my friend says before going on to tell me that a development company have just won their appeal to build on the site at the end of my road.

Bakersfield is a scrubby brownfield site chocha block with songbirds, including nightingales, orchids and reptiles. McCulloch Homes’ original planning application had been thrown out by Medway Council as the site is just too valuable for wildlife but now the developers have won on appeal because the council isn’t meeting the government’s demands for housing at a quick enough pace.

I had protested against these plans, breathed a sigh of relief when they were dropped and now I have to swing into action to protest again. I do so, writing to Buglife, to the council, to my MP but it is exhausting, it is time consuming, it is never ending. It is designed to grind you down and make you stop saying ‘No.’ But saying No is still our right, it is the most important thing we can do. While I still live in some semblance of a democracy I will keep going. Raise awareness, protest, say no. giving in is not an option.

To contribute to the consultation for sea planes landing in the Medway Estuary contact james.goodfellow@peelports.com

To protest against the planned development at Bakersfield contact planning.representation@medway.gov.uk

 

Another one bites the dust

There it goes. Land at Conyer earmarked for development Copyright: N Chadwick

There it goes. Land at Conyer earmarked for development
Copyright: N Chadwick

Last night I travelled to Conyer Creek. There is a spot on the wall of the old brickfields where you can sit and with a view down the river and hear the nightingales sing. Last night one sang it’s full repertoire, whistling and syruping and twizzling amidst the scrub. It is the last spring that a nightingale will sing from this spot. It is the last spring I can sit at the bend of the creek and see the shelduck fly to the marshes. Conyer Creek, along with seemingly every other little scrubby delight in Kent, has been given over to development.

A company called Pod Architects is developing 24 luxury homes on the site. Twenty Four? I very much doubt this will be the affordable housing the government dupes us into thinking it is supplying. Instead it will be twenty four wealthy people owning second homes with a view of the creek, twenty four portfolio holders buying them up and renting them out at stupid prices.

How can this happen? How can permission be given for the destruction of a site that is so valuable for wildlife when it will only build 24 homes? Of course this part of Conyer is a brownfield site. useless, valueless in the eyes of many, except this is nonsense. Many brownfield sites are highly valuable to wildlife, irreplaceable for insects, reptiles and all those little birds flying across from Africa in the spring only to find the places they traditionally breed given over to hideous toy town developments of fake fishing cottages.

Everywhere I look these sites are going. Conyer Creek destroyed, Bakers Field, a scrubby patch of land at the end of my road where little owls hunts and orchids bloom, threatened, Lodge Hill, the best nightingale site we have, not yet safe. At the same time, on the outskirts of our towns, super large retail developments with mega car parks are built. It does not add up. Does any town centre in the entire country really need another supermarket? Wouldn’t this land be better used for housing? Wouldn’t it be bet to tackle the real problems, over population and too many second homes lying idle all week?

But of course, no government has the stomach for that, and certainly not the current bunch with their hands in developers pockets. It makes me want to weep, it makes me want to emigrate, it makes me want to find a time portal and whip back to another age when we valued our countryside more. Instead I plod  on, into a future where ugly ribbon developments spread out from our towns and we sit in gridlocked in traffic at weekends, trying to escape into a countryside which once existed on our doorsteps.