Posts Tagged ‘Lower Derwent Valley’

Are our landscapes of any value and why were NNRs not included?

February 28, 2015

The Landscapes for everyone initiative was launched on 19 January 2015 in Parliament.  Some 27 organisational signatories called for the need to protect precious landscapes.

The coalition members listed below

Association of Garden Trusts; Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland; British Mountaineering Council; The Broads Society; Campaign for National Parks; Campaign to Protect Rural England; Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales; The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare; The Conservation Volunteers; Dartmoor Preservation Association; English Outdoor Council; Friends of the Earth; Friends of the Lake District; Friends of the Peak District; Groundwork UK; John Muir Trust; Landscape Institute; National Trust; Outdoor Industries Association; Open Spaces Society; Ramblers; Scottish Campaign for National Parks; Snowdonia Society; South Downs Society; Wilderness Foundation; The Wildland Research Institute; Yorkshire Dales Society.

Seek, amongst other things to

Strengthen planning protections for landscape – the planning system is one of the best tools we have to protect landscapes. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England, Planning Policy Wales, Scottish Planning Policy and other planning guidanceshould be strengthened to protect our best and irreplaceable including their setting, from major and intrusive development;
Integrate the UK’s commitment to The European Landscape Convention into Government policies, including the NPPF and equivalents in Scotland and Wales;
Endorse and promote the National Character Area profiles as a tool for local authorities and policy makers to take a holistic approach to planning and landscape management in each area.
Encourage the restoration of degraded or impoverished landscapes in and around our towns and cities as well as the wider countryside, for the benefit of people, nature and the economy
Ensure our National Parks, AONBs, NSAs, Historic Landscapes, historic public parks and green spaces have sufficient resources to guarantee their long term protection and enhancement.

These aspirations are excellent, but as with much of this kind of ‘call to action’ unless it has substance through legislation and compliance is monitored and enforced then we will continue to see the degradation of the quintessential English landscape as it becomes consigned to art galleries and the history books?

That is not to say that the ‘Landscape coalition’ is not right and it is to be congratulated on raising the issue but to our minds there are many missing signatories …. the RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts to name a couple of million voices who we would like to think care about the landscape?  A glaring omission, to our minds is the mention of the publically owned National Nature Reserves managed on the publics behalf, in the main by Natural England.  Why has the Minister for the Environment not included this portfolio of public land in the catalogue of places which are deemed to be of landscape importance?

Many readers will have stood on the viewing platform on Thorne Moors and appreciated the panorama, sadly if they have known the area over recent decades they will have noticed the ring of steel increasing as the landscape is becoming more industrialised?

Thorne Moors panorama

The Lower Derwent Valley (LDV) and Saltfleetby Theddlethorpe too are other local gems, why are they not deemed to be important in landscape terms?  One might wonder why Natural England are not keen to see public places protected?  The public forests are still under threat and it was not so long since that the ConDem coalition with it’s ‘greenest ever’ promise was seeking to divest the public portfolio of NNRs.  How long before either of these issues are revisited?

S T Panorama4a

Are the above images of wild open spaces, evocative landscapes not worthy of protection?  Are they not worthy of inclusion in the recent initiative ‘Landscapes for everyone’?  Wake up Natural England before we lose ‘moor’ ….

See also National Character Area profiles: data for local decision making.  The GOV.UK page informs the reader that Natural England is improving access to environmental evidence and information through NCA profiles.  NCA Profile: 39 The Humberhead Levels (NE339) offers some 47 pages, much of which is narrative but supplemented with some interesting statistics (very few reference sources).  That recording interest of Saltfleetby Theddlethorpe is NCA Profile: 42 Lincolnshire Coast and Marshes (NE521) and the LDV is NCA Profile: 28 Vale of York (NE367) 


Season’s greetings to all & random ramblings ….

December 24, 2013

As I travelled about earlier today the winds building up were quite noticeable.  The winter plover flocks were buffeted by them, the finch flocks foraging in the few fields still offering stubble were carried further by them whilst the thrushes struggled to find hedgerows amidst the local prairescape.  Later on the news reported in excess of 100 flood warnings and around 160 flood alerts across the country, power failures are also reported so it looks like it could be a cold and wet festive season for many.

Here in the Humberhead Levels, of which much is flood plain, we seem to escape the worst of the ravages that places like York experience.  If we head a little further north into the Lower Derwent Valley, where the rivers flood regularly it really can be a picture to behold.  The farming practice however is well used to these occurences and manage the cropping regime accordingly.


A spectacular aerial view across Wheldrake Ings in the Spring of 2012.

The turmoil suffered by many is tragic, but the fact that Government insist that local authorities build 20% of new housing in flood plains fails to make any sense to me, clearly a difficult policy to understand?

Government and its statutory agencies and authorities have often conducted business which appears to contradict their published aims and objectives.  Science seems to have been abandoned when our natural environment is under threat, instead developers are ‘advised’ or encouraged to mitigate for loss.  I suppose the resultant column inches from such gardening projects makes for nice political PR?  Guardians no longer seem able or willing to risk political displeasure by ensuring strict adherence to relevant legislation.

Thankfully though I’m not a lone voice, other well read bloggers such as Mark Avery whose excellent Standing up for Nature blog seeks to encourage, to motivate and to provoke,  Miles King’s a new nature blog is another thought provoking example.   These and others have and sadly continue to report horrendous shortfalls in action to halt decline of species and habitats.  ‘Twitcher in the swamp’ and ‘Naturally opinionated’ are both regular pieces in British Wildlife and they too are well worth the read.  I recall the 1997 masterpiece: “A muzzled watchdog” I sense there is an opportunity for a revised edition given the many and varied reports published by collaborations of NGOs, which read like obituaries rather than government marketing spin.  The conference at which the bold State of Nature report was launched brought the prospect of hope?  Nature Check 2013 and others followed, as Iolo said words …. I’m an agnostic, so await their update but fear that it will be variation.  Activism is what’s needed, so who will call conservation to arms?  Will Andrew Sells herald a new beginning for nature’s guardians, Owen Paterson introduces the Government’s preferred candidate …. but it seems George Monbiot is not too sure, nor is Miles King.  Ever our agnostic approach, we will observe evolution in action.

A plea that if you’ve not already done so, to consider signing the petition STOP & RETHINK   & just to re-iterate (again) that we’re NOT oppossed to the principle of open access, simply that we seek open and transparent process which adheres to legislation.

Spare a thought tomorrow when you ‘pull the wishbone’ with family and friends, what do we all really need?  Fundamental to human well being is surely a healthy planet, a functioning ecosytem (not a fractured one, fixed with financial ‘fiddling’) in which we play a part, albeit a major part.

So, here’s wishing all our readers a happy and healthy Christmas and on the morrow a determination to promote, to encourage, to persuade, to advocate, whatever it takes to repair decades of damage to sensitive and fragile habitats.

So, a big thank you to all the Forum’s volunteers and to our extensive network for the help and support provided throughout 2013, particularly to the many ecologists who have made significant contributions to our understanding of the biodiversity of Thorne and Hatfield Moors SSSI.  Here’s to 2014 and to ‘moor’ firsts for the UK!


Moody and evocative, therapeutic and energising – all these emotions are out there so please join us in seeking to champion the cause for nature conservation wherever you live!

Thanks to Ted Sabin for sharing this autumnal image of Crowle Moors. 

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Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

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.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

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