Posts Tagged ‘Beverley Pastures’

Beverley Pastures

March 30, 2014

At the Forum’s recent Annual Meeting we were treated to an excellent talk about the Beverley Pastures by Barbara English and Kieran Sheehan.  The history of these five ancient commons, their natural history and the ongoing campaign to ensure that they remain in perpetuity Common Pastures in the true sense was enjoyed by all those attending, so much so that it was agreed that a visit to the lesser known but more biologically diverse Commons should be arranged for later in the year!

I suspect that many people on their way to the East Coast will travel through the Westwood or Hurn and not really be aware of their historic significance nor the biological importance of their near neighbours at Swinemoor, Figham and Lund or “those at t’other side of the tracks” as they were described yesterday!

140330 Beverley Pastures front cover

There is a super little book which provides an excellent account of the Beverley Pastures, written by Barbara English.  It was published in 2013 to mark the 5oth Anniversary of the Beverley and District Civic Society.  A veritable bargain at £5.99 and certainly a useful starting point for anyone interested in the area.

To supplement the published detail there are a number of useful websites and blogs to keep community campaigners and activists alert and up to speed with happenings.  The Beverley Commons Blog (BCB) is an absolute must, BirdNerd provides site information for the ornithological interest of Swinemoor and the Dartford Waffler writes occasional posts from visits to the site.

Swinemoor, Figham and Lund Commons were, like Thorne & Hatfield Moors, once far more extensive.  As ever, over time they have been encroached upon and lost to developments of one sort or another.  It seems that like many other areas there appear to be times when adherence to procedures and legislative compliance could be better and as a consequence there is a need for vigilance by local community activists to ensure that there is open and transparent conduct of business by local planning authorities and other public bodies.  There is an interesting section in the book which explains about the Pasture ownership and governance and in terms of ownership an interesting explanation is to be found on the BCB.  The battle to ensure in perpetuity the rights of common, remind us of Wm Bunting’s battle here at Thorne.  It was interesting to discover also that Emeritus (University of Hull) Professor English had many years ago met ‘WB’, a ‘small world’ as they say?

It is interesting to observe that one of the images accompanying the Wikipedia definition of Pasture Land is that which shows Beverley Minster in the background!  Common Land and the fight to keep it is rich in social history and is often linked to rural areas and local people’s rights many of which, these days, have been lost to hearth (turbary etc.).

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Causes for celebration?

March 16, 2014

It’s always nice to receive good news or positive outcomes and to be able to congratulate people on achieving best conservation outcomes:

The Badger saga: there was a Backbench Business Committee debate on Thursday 13 March in the ‘House’, see here to watch the debate or to download the transcript.  It is interesting to observe the proceedings and ‘performaces’,  one might be minded to agree that the Independant Expert Panel (IEP) report should have been made available ahead of the debate (as oppossed to being leaked on the day) in order that all MPs could read and understand all the significant findings.  219 to one MPs voted to halt the cull, many justified abstention by indicating that the final IEP Report was required ahead of a debate.  In the interim of the awaited IEP Report, perhaps they should read a few statistics provided by ‘Team Badger’?   The outcome of the debate is not binding upon the Government and thus far the ConDems have carried on in just that manner,  ConDem’ing wildlife and the environment to an uncertain future by clearing away red tape they see as inhibiting development.  What is perhaps equally worrying is a Government who appears deaf to the masses?  Fifty Shades of Grayling a guest blog by Carol Day was another damming view on the Government’s ‘green credentials’ and featured on the well read Standing up for Nature site operated by Mark Avery.   Another recent critique he featured was subsequent to a magazine interview with Dave Webster, CEO of Natural England, entitled What would you have liked to have asked?  it too receives a number of interesting comments. 

It is unfortunate that the Defra website  does not contain up to date information which raises the issue of open and transparent reporting by a Government Department perhaps?  The Defra website then directs you to GOV.UK website for more information, but that only brings you to the end of last year in terms of the IEP.  GOV.UK also provides details of the membership of the IEP.  It is understood and reported in the media that the Minister, Owen Paterson has at long last received the IEP Report, so hopefully it will not be too long before its findings will be made public.  The BBC (television station not Parliamentary Committee) reports that Badger culls were ‘ineffective and failed humaneness test’.

Badger & mayweed

Badger by Tatterdemalion.   Image courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons license.

A number of email updates were received reporting upon the success of the collaborative coalition to save The Sanctuary a Derby CC Local Nature Reserve.  This was an excellent outcome not only for the wildlife of the site but also that it demonstrated what can be achieved by a collective collaboration of community conservationists.  It is understood that Derby CC press release concludes with this quite stinging comment ‘Derbyshire Wildlife Trust continues to have a service level agreement with the Council to provide expert advice on matters related to the natural environment.  Their compliance with this agreement will now be formally reviewed, and if found to be in breach, the appropriate legal action will be taken’.  It raises the issue of ‘paymasters’ requiring unchallenged compliance and co-operation otherwise potential loss of revenue to anyone with the audacity to challenge?  That was perhaps one of the benefits of forming a collaborative coalition, and was the rationale behind the Forum’s governance model.  There are an array of interesting comments posted, clearly and understandably local conservationists are not planning on complacency and will remain vigilent, long may the network deliver and where statute fails may they be held to account?

It was also pleasing to note that the Open Spaces Society have submitted a objection to the land swop at Beverley.  A timely reminder perhaps that one of the guest speakers at the Forum’s forthcoming Annual Meeting is Emeritus Professor Barbara English who will give a presentation on Beverley Pastures, the natural history and campaigning perspective will be provided by Kieran Sheehan. 

The IUCN have recently produced a glossy PR brochure on UK Peatland Restoration.   A number of geographically diverse case studies are offered but for the analysts of associated costs then there is disappointment and likewise perhaps the superficial reporting but nevertheless it delivers something we (conservation) often fail to celebrate, so well done!  Aimed for the layman rather than the scientist, one might see the benefit of having sufficient printed / CD to provide all 650 MPs in Westminster with a copy?


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