‘Moor’ developments & statutory failures?

Quite a number of readers appear to have been interested in the last post, that providing details of the Public Information Session for the Old River Don wind farm near Crowle. Interestingly the developers don’t ask people where they heard about the event, but they did ask visitors to sign in so there is a record of people prepared to identify themselves.

After Tween Bridge and Keadby wind farms were signed of by the then Government Minister (Ed Miliband) following a Public Inquiry held in the East Riding (Tween Bridge is in Doncaster MBC and Keadby in North Lincolnshire) the dominoes have fallen at a relentless pace and our local landscape is scarred by gesture politics?

This PIS session was much the same as the previous, redrawn boards to show where they had altered the layout of the turbines. Effectively the two nearest the village have been moved to nearer the edge of the Moors and one has been dropped from the proposed scheme altogether, so now six as oppossed to the original seven will be applied for.  Developers as ever were quick to point out the benefit to local communities of the significant ‘community pot’.  Significant and substantial are in my book, subjective terms and require detailed explanation, but then here in Yorkshire some would regard us as too plain spoken?

What is worrying from a Forum perspective is that Marsh Harrier sightings and even breeding birds are not deemed particularly worthy of interest or concern because these birds (a) are not a species featured on the SPA citation nor (b) do they  form part of the Humber Estuary SPA population.  So, effectively they are fair game for developers to ignore.

Interestingly, Hen Harrier (non-breeding) is a qualifying interest of the Humber Estuary.  Previous blog posts have alerted readers to the fact that there has been a complete breeding failure in England of the species and whilst unlikely to succeed Dr Mark Avery (Standing up for nature blog) has set up an on-line petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shoots.  Currently it stands around 3,500 and Avery adds that he would be really pleased if the number of signatures reached 5000 by the start of the grouse shooting season on the Inglorious 12 August and he asks regulars …. to please have a think about it and then sign it.  To appreciate the background and rationale you need to read the series of his posts on the subject.

When was the last time the local SSSIs / SPAs / SACs were reviewed?  I suppose it might be said to benefit commercial developers if this process is delayed or shelved and even if it were undertaken then there is (quite rightly) an appeal system, so there is every opportunity for landowners to oppose strengthening protection and ensuring a comprehensive and robust suite of SSSIs and Natura 2000 sites.

This case (Marsh Harrier) reminds me of an incident involving breeding Woodlark (a Schedule 1 bird, theorhetically with more protection than Nightjar) but because they weren’t on the SPA citation it was deemed acceptable to wilfully disturb them.  The experts opinion (judge and jury) was that they would relocate, so clearly it was more important to get the access projects concluded than strict compliance with the letter of the law and demonstrable best practice?

But setting aside statutory failings and a planning system which some environmentalists would consider to be failing and not fit for purpose, it has been a pleasant weekend weatherwise.

The moth lists continue to grow with various recent sessions across a number of sites adding data to the files.  We reported on the new checklist of lepidoptera which attributes numbers to species, all in a reasoned manner and with a most laudable rationale behind the exercise.  But a moth with a name like Uncertain has a poetic appeal beyond 73.096 or 2381 in ‘old currency’.  The bi-nominal system of naming species is universally understood  and quite rightly accepted.  To attribute log numbers also makes sense (they are easily managed on computer software for example, something which assists recorders).  But the moth-ers of yesteryear clearly had interesting imaginations to assign vernacular names such as Setaceous Hebrew Character, Old Lady, Mother Shipton, Nun, Large Ear, Drinker and a Puss Moth?  Now a Magpie might well conjure up thoughts of black and white so in some names there does seem a logic but in others just delightful eccenticity?

WB 1971

We’ve recently received another batch of ‘WB’ material to add to our archive of his work.  The late Wm Bunting (above) was a prolific and vociferous champion of both the natural environment and community assets (be it common land or cemetries).  This material is priceless (particularly any originals) as it evidences the historic research Bunting undertook in order to underpin his claims, which on some occasions ended up in the Courts.  In his day, things were generally more black and white, these days they seem to be shades of grey and it may be that they are where the compromises made come with significant costs.  How many readers remember when Fison’s persuaded English Nature to enter an agreement in 1992 which saw a fabulous ‘PR’ exercise proclaimed ‘the peatlands being saved for the nation’ a ‘stunt’ whereby Fison’s gifted the land but carried on the corporate carnage regardless.  It wasn’t until 1997 that this agreement was made public, and what a revelation!  Then, eventually in 2002, when the depth of peat was no longer viable across much of the moor that they (Scotts UK Ltd) agreed to take £17.3m + a further £1.32m to create bunds across the Moors to assist the restoration scheme.  A restoration scheme which under the planning system and the Review of Mineral Planning Permissions as required by European legislation they would have had to fund had the earlier arrangement not been concluded!  By agreeing to phase out peat extraction by 2004 they walked away with cash and no cost.   The public continue to fund repair of these damaged sites.  Having met the infamous and irascible ‘WB’ I can only guess at some of the choice expletives which would have been flying were he still alive to comment on the ‘package secured’.

 

 

 

 

 

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