Thorpe woodlands are under threat. Racecourse, Belmore and Brown's Plantations are a County Wildlife Site, a superb wildlife habitat and green space for the Norwich area. The present owners of this natural heritage, plan to prosper by building a large housing estate with new roads across it. The purpose of this blog is to inform you about the campaign to save these woodlands and their wildlife.
Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013
Saturday, 16 November 2013
Rock's Roadshow hits town
A whole set of fresh (well, different) faces, but behind the plastic smiles and the new graphics lie the same old story. With added gloss this time, and at a community centre near you (if you live near Thorpe). Rock Mellen has assembled a large team of 'experts', all of whom have been well trained in the art of insincerity, it seems. The Mayhews and Meath-Bakers who own the woods are throwing money at it: Rock's team at the laughably-named Socially Conscious Capital is already five-strong, and they don't work for nothing. SCC has engaged one of the country's leading forestry consultants, Lockhart Garratt, whose director John Lockhart personally attended the roadshow's recent Thorpe debut. As did Duncan Painter, of Applied Ecology - a high-flying firm of ecologists which specialises in big developments. Then there is Turley Associates who describe themselves as planning consultants, but it seems that in this context, they are acting more as PR consultants. Then there is John Simpson Architects, an expensive London firm. Also on the payroll are Create consulting engineers, a Norwich based company. We don't know whether Gail mayhew still plays any part in things, but some of the text on SCC's website and their exhibition panels looks very Gail-esque.
Rock Fielding of Socially Conscious Capital
The Team unveiled their super-duper new exhibition for the first time on 9th November at Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe End. They have clearly thrown loads of money at this too, and some of it has stuck: the entire exhibition is almost viscid with PR slime, proffering weasel-words in pretty typefaces. Images of happy children skipping along autumn leaf-strewn woodland paths abound. It could easily be a Disney production. Here are a few highlights:
"This new proposal marks a complete change from that previously put forward by others". Well, is that a fact? Actually, no! This new proposal actually marks more of the same. A re-run of the same old nonsense about how building on 75 acres of the woodland (that's equivalent to a large chunk of Dussindale) would "Protect and enhance the ecological value of the woods", and relying, just as before, on presenting the scheme not as what it is - ie: an attempt to get permission to make millions from development - but as sincere initiative aimed at providing local people with a lovely park.
It would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that these people seem willing to pump whatever cash it takes into getting their way. They seem to imagine that if they repeat the same things often enough, people will start to believe them. There are a few differences this time round though. The most significant is that SCC have inadvertently proved something that we at FTW have been saying all along: that there is a perfectly good alternative to development. Their forestry consultants, Lockhart Garratt, prepared a detailed assessment of woodland management as an alternative option to development, and it is actually very good. However Rock and his West End pals must have thought it sounded terribly destructive and took it for granted that the public would feel similarly. And so SCC, instead of shoving the forestry option under the carpet where nobody would find it, have drawn attention to it, hoping it would shock people into supporting their development option. Just in case people weren't as repelled by the forestry option as they hoped, they produced a special map showing the whole site coloured either red or orange, the accompanying key implying all of this would be clear felled and thinned (see below)
But closer study of LG's forestry assessment reveals the map below, showing what kinds of management would take place up to 2030.
This looks a lot less scary. In fact, it looks pretty good. And when the full report is read alongside it, it becomes clear that what SCC are calling the "Forestry Option" would mean that there would be genuine improvements in woodland quality and wildlife habitat quality, with the whole woodland area turned into broadleaved, semi-natural coppice with standards woodland within 20 years.
One of many things SCC's presentation avoids mentioning is that any forestry management would have to comply with UK Forestry Standards and be fully approved and monitored by the Forestry Commission.
SCC seem to have been thoroughly taken aback by FTW's support for their Forestry Option. At their roadshow in Thorpe, they tried their hardest to ignore it as if hoping it would go away, but whenever anyone picked them up upon it, they resorted to portraying it as a terrible prospect: "they would have to bar public access for safety reasons", "there would be 55 acres of trees felled by 2023" and, most importantly, if the forestry option were adopted, "the woods would always remain at threat from developers". This of course meaning at threat from their clients, the landowners who apparently reject the prospect of a reasonable income from sustainable forestry.
We will publish more information on the Forestry Option and what it means over the next few weeks.
Rock's Roadshow goes north of the border for attack on Edinburgh Greenbelt
Click image or text link below image to see live Edinburgh News page
Pictured: Colin Kemp, spokesman for local residents group 'Listen to Longniddry'.
SCC held a meeting at which 300 local residents attended. When the development plans were criticised Rock responded to local residents by telling them, “The estate will not be dictated to by the village.”