- The Save Thorpe Woodlands campaign is now featured on the Guardian's 'Piece by Piece' website - find it on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/06/2 Please take a look and leave a comment.
- Two members of the campaign met Karen Buchanan from Radio Norfolk at Belmore Plantation on Friday 6th August. We showed Karen around the woods and pointed out the obvious fact that they are predominantly broadleaved semi-natural woods - hardly a conifer in sight except for a few in small corners. Mike Ryder from the Woodland Trust also attended and gave his / the Woodland Trust's views. Karen seemed somewhat amazed when she saw for herself the woods that the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust had described as "commercial conifer plantations, planted after the war". The interview is to be broadcast some time during the week beginning 9th August. Karen's show is 11am to 1pm every weekday, so tune in if you can. If you miss it, you can listen again on BBC iplayer.
- While we were waiting for Karen Buchanan and Mike Ryder to turn up we were approached by a chap on a bicycle who stopped and offered us a leaflet, entitled 'Save Thorpe Wood'. It turned out he had independently found out about the development scheme and produced these leaflets himself - we are now working together! We also found some laminated posters alerting people to the threat to the woods at various points aorund them - our new contact hadn't made them, nor had we, so somebody else has taken their own initiative to fight against this scheme. There are probably others doing the same sort of thing. Let's all get together so we know who we all are and can combine forces. Divided we'll stand, but united we stand even stronger!
- This blog has attracted a phenomenal number of 'hits' since it started two weeks ago. It is currently coming up near the top of the first page on Google, using the search terms: 'save thorpe woodlands' or 'belmore park'.
- The campaign continues to gain support, not only from concerned individuals but also from conservation organisations. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Campaign for Protection of Rural England (CPRE), and the Woodland Trust are backing the campaign's objective to prevent the woodlands being severely damaged (or destroyed pretty well altogether in Racecourse Plantation's case). The wildife author Richard Mabey is also supporting us, and we hope to gain support from others as the campaign progresses.
- We have compiled a full species list for Racecourse Plantation - this will soon be added to the blog as a separate page, together with a gallery page of photographs of the woodlands' wildlife and landscapes. The species list is very impressive, including numerous scarce and rare species of flora and fauna. We welcome input to the species records - if you know of species not mentioned on the list (when it's available), please let us know by emailing Lorna on: email@example.com . In order to treat records as reliable we must have your name and address, together with details of what species you noted, where in the woodlands, and when. We have to reserve the right to hold publication of submitted records until verified, as we must maintain high standards of accuracy.
- The landowners, ie: the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust, a.k.a. the Broadland Land Group, went to great lengths during their 'charrette' to assure everyone that they were acting openly and honestly, and were keen to involve the local community as much as possible. They told us they would be happy to answer questions if people sent them via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Well, we have sent them a number of questions since the end of the 'charrette' (July 13th), and they have not answered any. People who sent questions received a brief response on 23rd July promising that they would receive proper answers soon. No answers have yet been forthcoming. This doesn't do much to help the squeaky-clean, 'only trying to do what local people want' public image they've been so eager to present. Our questions have been very reasonable, eg: Andres Duany told everyone at the 'charrette' final presentation: "There's no need to take notes - this whole thing is being recorded [motioning towards a tripod-mounted camera with big fluffy microphone at the back] and you can all get a copy of the recording after this is over" - When will people be able to get a copy of the recording, and in what format? - no answer. Are they prepared to confirm that their description of the woodlands as "commercial conifer plantations planted after the end of the second world war" was wildly inaccurate: - no answer. Are they willing to concede that Andres Duany's assertion that the housing density would be: "3.1 per acre - that's low density housing, nothing like Dussindale estate" was grossly misleading: this figure can only be arrived at if dividing the whole 200+ acres by 631 houses: when taking into account the clear fact that his 'masterplan' shows the vast majority of housing on Racecourse Plantation, in which a small proportion of open space is retained, the true figure here works out at more than double that density! No answers to these, or any other questions so far.
- Anyone who feels like asking these people any questions should do so by sending them to: email@example.com
- At their 'charrette' drop-in session on July 13th (to which only two people other than myself turned up, incidentally - and they were both from Broadland District Council) I found myself debating the ecological implications of their scheme with Gail Mayhew, the Trust's consultant. Gail was keen to tell me how all sorts of allotments, market gardens, cycle paths and other green things could be created every time I asked about the destruction of irreplaceable wildlife habitats. When it became obvious that I wasn't going to be deflected away from my queries, Gail kindly showed me the door, telling me the session was closed for the day. But not before I managed to ask her whether they had ever had an ecological survey carried out on the woodlands. Her reply was an unequivocal: "Of course we have". When I asked if I could see it, she told me it was publicly accessible at Broadland District Council to whom they had submitted a copy. Surprisingly, despite having made a concerted effort to track down anything resembling an ecological survey from the Trust or Broadland Land Group, BDC has been unable to find anything even remotely answering that description.
- Save Thorpe Woodlands will keep you updated at least once a week until this is over. Please look out for the 'gallery' page and the species list page. Please also make your feelings known where they count (reasonably and politely please!). Full contact details can be found on the previous blog post.
- Your comments are very welcome - please click on the comments icon and say what you want to say.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
Latest campaign news
Here is a quick update on what's been happening over the last week.