Posts Tagged ‘Internal Drainage Boards’

Objectionable?

May 6, 2016

Could we encourage readers to visit Standing up for Nature, and look at the issues raised by Avery in his synopsis of the case for objecting to a retrospective planning application to continue damaging upland moorland at Midhope Moor to the north west of Sheffield?

The application seeks to secure retrospective planning permission for a temporary track to a line of grouse butts.  There are some 30 objections to the application, although Avery points out that there are none from any conservation organisation, why one might wonder is that?  It is interesting that the applicant is supported by Natural England.  See the downloadable pdf available via the planning portal.

PEAK DISTRICT MOORS SPA/SOUTH PENNINE MOORS SAC/THE DARK PEAK SSSI  Application ref.:  NP/S/0316/0214

Natural England write in support of the retrospective planning application for the lightweight access matting laid over the soil and vegetation along the route from Lost Lad to Mickleden Grouse Butts within the above named designated sites. 

If this was a legitimate restoration activity and had discussions taken place ahead of this infrastructure being laid then one could perhaps understand Natural England’s position, but it appears that the works had been undertaken to provide access grouse butts rather than facilitate conservation management?  More than one commentator questions why NE have supported retrospectively, considering they should have better advised the landowner in the first instance given the public funding relating to the site.

Note also that the Screening Opinion recognises that the application falls with Schedule 2 of the Regulations but it is not considered by the Planning Manager to have a significant impact on the environment.  The creation of easy access to facilitate transport of shooters and their entourage is surely part of the plan or project, not merely the placing of matting?

One interesting aspect to note is that the PDNP make public commentators personal details available, this is clearly stated and obvious when opening consultees correspondence.  It appears that different public bodies adopt different policies and there is no consistency across such matters.  Another example would be that a number of Internal Drainage Boards operating in the Humberhead Levels, particularly associated with the Doncaster area have redacted some personal details from correspondence and on other occasions have published them.

Anyone wishing to make representation has until Monday 9 May to do so.  That is this coming Monday, so the weekend to consider and compose some correspondence to the Peak District National Park Planning Team.    The link to the page provides the array of material documents and there is a form to submit comments.  Remember if you wish to object to the application then you need to ensure that you indicate (by ticking the relevant box) that your comment is an objection, in support, or simply a general comment.

Vandalism or maintenance?

January 27, 2016

There was no fallen timber, no blockages preventing water flow but where Internal Drainage Board (IDB) machinery and maintenance are involved woe betide anything getting in their way?  There appeared to be no indication that pruning or removal of trees was required, no paint or tape were located to suggest that inspection had identified flow restriction or other maintenance requirement.

Internal Drainage Boards exist by virtue of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (as amended), they exist principally to undertake drainage of land, generally this is agricultural land but they also receive revenue from other property which may be in their catchment(s). In some areas Local Authorities collect these levies on their behalf and these are paid from revenue collected from council tax payers.

It is the EA who are responsible for flood defence and alleviation, with IDBs encouraged to co-operate in such matters.  Both the EA and IDBs are Public Bodies and as such, ‘reputedly’ accountable.  IDBs are required to take account of and indeed to promote biodiversity benefit ….

See the WLMA website and their guidance note where it clearly acknowledges that IDBs derive their powers from the Land Drainage Act 1991 (as amended by 1994 Act).  Section 12 of this Act states that in discharging its functions with relation to Land Drainage, the Boards must ‘further the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty and the conservation of flora, fauna and geological or physiographical features of special interest’.

Vandalism or maintenance perhaps, but biodiversity benefit?

On a positive note, this incidence is not on the scale of that in 2012, reported in 2013 via Standing up for nature?  But, is it another example of IDB governance practice and procedure or another ‘runaway digger driver’?

 

 

Conservation campaigning: epetitions to consider?

June 3, 2015

In the aftermath of the recent General Election there appears to be a number of epetitions doing the rounds.   The promised free vote to repeal the ban on hunting with hounds galloped to the fore.  Interestingly Lord Gardiner, formerly of the Countryside Alliance, will represent Defra in the House of Lords.  As a former chair of a fox hunt Lord Gardiner might perhaps be keen to promote the repeal?  Mark Avery seems to think so as does Miles King .  The Prime Minister who has ridden to hounds in Oxfordshire and believes in the freedom to hunt has ensured that he has like minded in the Lords?  Interestingly the link to the article written for the Countryside Alliance magazine reports “page not found”.  We note that the CA consider that they are the “voice of the countryside”, is that the people, the wildlife or the entity?  We would be interested to understand how they validate such a claim, something akin perhaps to suggesting that a government represents a nation when in reality most (UK) parties manage to secure power on around 25% to perhaps 30% of votes?

There are two set up, one through 38 degrees the other through change.org either or both …. the message is the same and already the Change.org is already past 350,000, 38 degrees in excess of 100,000.  One might beforgiven for wondering why the Government have not yet re-instated the GOV.UK epetition option?  Avery has pledged to launch a second ‘Ban grouse driven shooting’ epetition because of the continuing persecution of birds of prey most notably Hen Harriers.  The Change.org epeitions mentioned, had it been on the GOV.UK epetition website option would have already passed the ‘magic figure’ which would require a response from Defra and a discussion in Parliament.  How would HM Government define ‘soon’?  It will soon be a month since the General Election, maybe they are anticipating a few environmentally orientated epetitions being set up, perhaps a few relating to the NHS as well?  It might be that electoral reform could feature?  ‘Soon’ could be construed as subjective and when applied to politics then even indeterminate?  Not exactly known, established or defined perhaps?

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Neonictonids are back on the agenda again with the agri-industry seeking to have the moretorium lifted.  38 degrees report that Our bees are in danger again. Toxic chemical companies are trying to get their banned pesticides back on UK fields. On the 20 May an application was submitted to the government asking them to lift the ban on bee-killing chemicals for some crops planted this autumn.  If you are still concerned about the threat to bees and then you might like to consider signing the epetition here?  Already 231,960 people have contacted Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs through this option in the hope that the government will listen.

Keep the ban on bee-killing pesticides is the most recent 38 degree campaign and it allows you to write to all three Defra Ministers:

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs MP George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment MP Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The campaign offers a form of words you can submit, but it also allows free text to be entered thereby making the message more personal. Imagine the impact on their inboxes …. ?

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Fishlake’s ever diminishing wildlife habitats

July 10, 2013

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Despite there being no threat of flooding or damage to property, in otherwords an over riding public interest requirement, routine management was carried out mid season and threatened rare species such as Stone Parsley.  A species known only from very few areas of South Yorkshire with the parishes of Fishlake and Sykehouse being regarded as the remaining haven for this very rare species considered by Wilmore et. al. (2011)* to be at its northern limit here in South Yorkshire.

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Sison amomum is a species of unimproved grasslands, hedgerows and verges and sadly is a declining species as areas are drained and improved for agriculture.   Like so many wildflowers once familiar across the countryside it is a casualty of ‘improvement’ and no amount of biodiversity building projects sees its return to lost habitats.  The connectivity and corridors described in Making Space for Nature don’t seem to have reached the Humberhead Levels despite various schemes to ‘Improve’ its Area for Nature.

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We’ve reported on various occurences of hedgerow losses in the pastoral parishes around the village of Fishlake.  The most recent incident relates to management of wildflower verges by Internal Drainage Boards.  These Public Bodies have a duty under legislation to further biodiversity, not to destroy it.  These photographs which accompanied a complaint to the Danvm Drainage Commissioners illustrate the inappropriate management undertaken recently.  Apologies were offered to the complainant but campaigners might be forgiven for considering them empty and meaningless following assurances earlier in the year that a proper management regime had been produced by their professional ecologist.  A shame that there was yet another break down in communication which sadly re-enforces the view that n’owt changes on the ground and the carnage continues.

We had been hoping to post an update on the DMBC investigations involving unauthorised hedgerow removal, sadly no news yet but watch this space for updates.

We are also awaiting replies from Defra about the decission to accept proposals by the Danvm Drainage Commissioners to proceed with a hedgerow removal contra, in the view of the Executive and its legal advisors, to the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 and the Hatfield Thorne Fishlake Inclosure Award of 1825.  It is interesting to note that Defra did, in their decission notification advise the DDC to take legal advice themselves but it appears that they are relying upon a third party opinion rather than safeguarding the Board Membership which includes elected representatives (49% of vote for a 13% financial contribution) and special levy (taxpayers) Council appointments (51 % of vote for an 87% financial contribution).  Watch this space for updates as they become available.

* South Yorkshire Plant Atlas published by the YNU & YHEDT.


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Mark Avery

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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