Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013

Saturday, 28 August 2010

GET OFF OUR LAND!

This was the message that greeted some 100 Thorpe residents who turned out to demonstrate their opposition to any development in the Thorpe woodlands, on Saturday 28th August.



Amusingly, the landowners (Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust) had hurriedly placed 'No Trespassing' notices at every entrance to the woods. They'd even gone to the trouble of dating them, as if to highlight that they were aimed at the protest walk. Perhaps there is a mole within Friends of Thorpe Woodlands, as we hadn't publicised the event other than via contacting the membership list. We don't really mind as we've got nothing to hide - and remember, moles can go in both directions!

100 people was a good turnout by any standards, but especially so given that we hadn't even thought about organsising anything until 36 hours earlier. Also attending the demo were five of the six Broadland District councillors representing the Thorpe area: Ian Mackie, John Fisher, Nigel Shaw, Suzanne Hayes and Graham Walker (pictured below) accompanied the march along Pound Lane and into Racecourse Plantation. All expressed their wholehearted support for the campaign to prevent the loss of any of the woodland. The sixth BDC councillor, Kim Davies-Claydon, was unable to attend due to other commitments: FTW are hoping she will also come out against the development concept. Several Thorpe Town Council members were also present in support of FTW.



Despite the developers' desperate attempts to deter demonstrators, all were able to freely enter Racecourse Plantation. The sun shone, birds sang and dragonflies whirred above our heads as everyone had a good look around the interior of the woods, many for the first time. People were amazed to see what T&FT had described as a 'commercial forestry plantation of conifers planted after the war'. Several walkers remarked that they had expected it to be like Thetford Forest and were astounded at T&FT's audacity in trying to make people believe this. Hardly a conifer in sight - just a handful of tall pines among the proliferation of hazel, birch, sweet chestnut, sycamore, beech and oak, some of which have clearly been there since the Crimean war. Admittedly, T&FT have never specified which war they were talking about!

The 'No Trespassing' notices were something of an own-goal by T&FT. Until now, T&FT have gone out of their way to present as nice and friendly an image as possible, telling everyone at the Town Council meeting on 7th July how kind they had been in tolerating unauthorised use of their woods by local people. Their friendly facade is clearly well rehearsed, and seemed to have won a few people over a few weeks ago. But since the indisputable facts about their scheme have been made known even the early sympathisers' views have changed, and many feel understandably deceived by assurances that only the least ecologically important parts of the woodland would be built on, and that the best parts would be retained. The areas identified by T&FT as 'best' are indeed good, but the rest is even better from an ecological perspective!



Nobody appreciates being taken for a fool. Judging by the feedback from today's mass walk in the woods, many feel this is exactly what they have been taken for. The reality of the woodlands' age and species composition is clear to see, even from a casual glance from any of the roads bordering them, but especially when in the heart of them. People remember being told, by T&FT representatives, that they had never considered any development proposals for the woods until now (the minutes of the 7th July meeting bear witness to this). When local people realised that T&FT had drawn up proposals for a very similar housing scheme for Racecourse Plantation as long ago as 2000, and had objected to the BDC Local Plan in 2005 on grounds that the woodlands should be allocated as potential development land, and that T&FT submitted their woodlands as a potential site for an 'eco-town' in 2007, any remaining faith in T&FT's words evaporated.

The public meeting that had been proposed for September has already been put back until early October, at the request of T&FT, who say thay are still working on their plans. It is rumoured that they are now looking to put it back even further, possibly until November. FTW understands T&FT's dithering, in view of the fact that they must be stumped as to what they can say to undo what have been exposed as their previous - shall we say (to paraphrase Hilary Clinton) - mis-speakings.

We still don't know when the September/October/November meeting at Thorpe High School is to be held, but we will post this information on the blog as soon as we have it. What we can say is that, according to BDC councillor Nigel Shaw, the T&FT has reluctantly agreed that the meeting will not be under their control but will be chaired by Thorpe Town Council. We understand that it will take the form of a presentation by T&FT of their latest plans, followed by a presentation by FTW of their case for preservation of the woodlands in their entirety. We hope that, following these presentations, members of the public will be able to ask questions of both parties.

Finally, despite T&FT's expression of welcome for the formation of Friends of Thorpe Woodlands (please see previous blog post), they have still not rseponded to our formal request for the video recording of their final 'charrette' presentation of 13th July. All present were clearly promised a copy of the recording, by Andres Duany. We can't help but wonder whether they have something to hide - possibly Mr Duany's obvious lack of knowledge about the woodlands and anything remotely related to ecology? If you would like a copy of the video recording, send an email to: broadlandlandgroup@gmail.com to request it, and ask for an explanation for the delay (it is nearly seven weeks since the promise was made).

Keep watching the blog for more news as it comes in. Events are happening thick and fast. We have some very interesting information from (as yet) anonymous sources on arboricultural (tree-related) matters. All will be revealed in due course! To join FTW, please contact Lorna C Beckett at: lornacbeckett@yahoo.co.uk

[Photos by Jason Beckett, text by John Allaway]

4 comments:

  1. Thorpe resident29 August 2010 15:54

    That so many people turned out for the walk with such short notice is testament to the depth of local feeling. Unfortunately we were away for a few days, otherwise the numbers would have been swelled as my whole family are upset at the proposal to destroy vast areas of this precious local resource. If the walk had been advertised weeks in advance, I can only imagine how many hundreds of people would have turned up.
    As the Government and Local Authorities and wildlife organisations are working towards increasing native woodlands, the owner's plans for the area can only be seen to show at best ignorance, and at worst nothing but a greedy disregard of the irreversible destruction their proposals would cause to our precious woodland ecosystem.

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  2. I was there on saturday and I was there at the village hall meeting last month too and I remember what those people said about the woods are all overgrown chrismas trees and they have never thought of building in the woods before. I thought they must be lying but I never thought they would of lied as bad as this. The whole thing is disgusting what they are trying to do. The woods are nothing like what they said and they have tried for years to build on them Why dont they give us the recordings? Becuase there scared of letting the truth out. Like the last person said they must be ignroant or greedy, I think greed is what its all about, Thank you to the Freinds of the woods for what your doing.

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  3. Have you considered making a Facebook group? It'd be a good way of letting a lot of people know about it very quickly, including people from different counties - possibly even different countries.

    I live just across the road from the woods and I'd hate to see them go!

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  4. We are linked with the Facebook spot 'Save Thorpe St Andrew Woodland from Development': http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=140383162641371&v=wall and I've made several postings about the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands on there. But it might be a good idea to start a group under our own name on there.

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