Sunday, 22 August 2010
Campaign news update
(Read on for article 'Campaign news update')
There has been some very good press coverage of the campaign recently, with several letters in the Evening News and EDP. On 21st August, an excellent half-page article by Kim Briscoe was published in the Evening News.
In this article a spokeswoman for the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust (presumably Gail Mayhew) is quoted as having said: "The Trust welcomes the formation of Friends of Thorpe Woodlands and looks forward to a productive discussion as to how to conserve and improve the areas of quality woodland within the plantations". We can't help wondering whether the T&FT's welcome is any more sincere than many of their previous claims about the woodlands and their scheme.
The second part of the quote gives a clue as to their angle, in that it refers to 'conserving & improving the areas of quality woodland within the plantations'. Their previous statements have made it clear that they consider only certain parts of the woodlands to be of any 'quality' and, interestingly, although these areas are good, they are less interesting from an ecological perspective than the rest. They have obviously taken advice only from foresters, who regard as 'good' only tall, straight conifers with clear stems that are marketable to the timber trade. We must hope that the T&FT will concede that although the areas they've identified as 'good' should be retained, the rest of the woodland is even better and should also be retained. As soon as they understand this, they can save themselves further work and expense on pursuing their development ideas, and save us the trouble of correcting them at every turn!
In the same article, the spokeswoman said: "We look forward to the Friends' views on how to eradicate fly-tipping and vandalism within the woods". However, once again the facts are against them. The level of flytipping and vandalism is actually amazingly low - far lower than at any comparable sites around the fringes of Norwich. There are a few spots where people have dumped small quantities of garden waste, and a pair of burned-out scooters in Racecourse Plantation. But there is a surprisingly small amount of litter and, although it is possible to find the odd small tree that has been snapped, evidence of significant vandalism is elusive. FTW would be happy to discuss ways of reducing flytipping, litter and vandalism even further, but this will have to take a back seat until the future of the woodlands as a whole is secure: after all, what greater vandalism can there be than bulldozing most of the woodland to oblivion?
The spokeswoman went on to say: "The Thorpe and Felthorpe Trust, like the Friends, are committed to the conservation of the environment and are developing proposals through public consultation to develop areas of lesser quality plantation woodland for various uses, including housing and local amenities. This would enable a long-term management regime to be put in place to enhance the woodland to enable public enjoyment while at the same time delivering development that is sustainable and location efficient".
FTW have to dispute this. Treating over 200 acres of wildlife-rich woodland as a potential building site can't, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as being "committed to conservation of the environment". The reference to "areas of lesser quality plantation woodland" is, again, interesting. The T&FT's masterplan shows virtually all of Racecourse Plantation covered by buildings and roads. It would help everyone if T&FT would take the trouble to educate themselves about woodland ecology. FTW would be very happy to discuss ways by which a long-term management plan could be drawn up to enhance the woodland for public enjoyment, but only if the development proposals are permanently withdrawn.