Monday, 25 March 2013

There was no birding for me today. Yesterday evening I learned of a proposal by Hadlow College to build a 'free school', and that it was to be built on the fields at Migrant Alley.

This afternoon there was a consultation on the proposal, at the local council offices, to which I attended, it looked horrendous, a double storey school, playground and football pitch right on the greenbelt! I of course filled in the forms stating the reasons for my objections to the proposal, but you know whats its like, I was fighting off tanks with a dead fish!

Although planning permission has not yet been granted, a few pupils from the school I work at have already been enrolled for this Septembers intake, what does that tell you!

The 'Free School' will allow children to learn in a countryside environment, enabling them to be taken out into the surrounding countryside and explore what nature has to offer - a pity then, that very school may take away an important piece of that habitat. The field forms part of a migratory corridor, for not only the common migrant bird species, but also some rarer ones such as Whinchat, Stonechat, Grasshopper warbler, Ring Ouzel and Turtle dove. If this proposal goes through at this site, and I suspect it will, it will be another nail in the coffin for our already under pressure migratory birds, denying them a place to refuel for there long journeys ahead   :-(  A sad day indeed.

Just to add insult to injury, I passed the Tree Nursery on the way to the meeting, and spoke to some guys there who were preparing the site for clearance. By the weekend the field will be back to bare earth and then ploughed in. I knew this day would come, but it still very sad to know that this spring i'll not be meeting with the 19 species of butterfly that lived there, nor see the Grass snakes, and slow worms, also to lose those fantastic Bee Orchids that I found there last year, plus those jewel like Damselflies, not to mention the fantastic bird species that the habitat enticed in, Barn owl, Common Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Jack Snipe, and Firecrest, all visited, while the Lesser and Common Whitethroats bred here last year along with many other common species, and where will the Kestrel pair hunt for small rodents now ?

A very sad day indeed for me.........some serious thinking needs to be done, with just a few days before I finish work for good, should I find pastures new ? Or carry on and record the demise of the 'Birds ( and other wildlife) of Pittswood' for future reference? After all someone will want to know where it all went, one day ?
Bee Orchid at the Tree Nursery last year


ShySongbird said...

Oh Warren! I'm so sorry to hear the bad news, this is very sad. You must be devastated, I know I would be, indeed many of my favourite places to walk have disappeared under buildings so I do understand. You must do all you can to object, maybe there are others who could join forces with you? There is always power in numbers, don't give up without a fight. I know Jason has whipped up lots of support for his campaign at Shenstone. Perhaps you could get the local press involved after all you have some very passionate and convincing arguments against the plans. What about involving the RSPB and other conservation bodies. Come on Warren! Don't give in easily.

Pete Woodruff said...

Too much to be said about this in this small space Warren.

This is a tragedy unfolding and you sound as though its all too late for anything meaningful to be done about it.

Warren Baker said...

Hi Songbird,
I'll do whatever I can, but its not looking good, I need money, power and friends in high places, the first two I detest, the third, well I'm praying already!

I suppose all I can really try to do is get some kind of mitigation, I wont entirely give up hope yet. :-)

Warren Baker said...

You're right, its a situation that volumes could be written about, but it all boils down to two things in the end - ignorance and greed, the twin evils of our age.

Rohrerbot said...

I'm sorry Warren. We are fighting the same thing with Rosemont Mine right now in a major bird territory. It also seems to be a "done deal" as if someone secretly told them all it would happen. I hope this doesn't happen and I'd probably make some phone calls. With our issue here, we've have several important permits and endangered animals preventing them from building right now. They would also add light pollution and water pollution into important bird territory. Do you have an organization that can help? I understand your mood as many of my wildlife friends here are in the same state of mind. None of it makes any sense.....the irony of a nature school destroying nature is insane.

Warren Baker said...

There are wildlife laws in this country, but they are very weak and easily circumvented. The best that can be hoped for the situation here is that lots of people come forward to oppose the planned school at its present intended site. However at the meeting there were precious few people, not enough to make a difference even if they all opposed.

Marc Heath said...

As a patch watcher, news does not get any worse to hear that. It seems the deal is already done. I think I would be recording the wildlife still there if I could but I wouldn't blame you if you found another patch nearby.

Gravel Pit Birder said...

fisrt, thanks for looking in at my blog. will work out how to link other blogs!
have visited your blog many times since moving to kent, love the pics.
now...your news...very sad and difficult. i agree that nature doesnt come very high up even when its got supposed protection from the law. its pretty bad.
as conservationists its difficult to watch. all i can possibly suggest is working with these people, see what can be salvaged. if its aimed at betting people out in to the countryside im sure they would actually like a nature person to be involved. sadly its the gains that you have to look at though im in no way suggesting this place should be built, obviously it shouldnt. but we have to win a few battles.

Marcus Lawson said...

Hi Mate,
I could cry. With all the data you have collected over the years you are in a great position to do something though, even if it is some sort of mitigation. However, they'll probably want to create a twee country park aka dog walkers latrine for their out of control pooches. Get in contact with Rob Clements, chairman of the KOS Surveys and Conservation committee as well as the Kent Wildlife Trust, either Sue Young or John Bennett. Other than that I would heartily recommend Dorset!!!

Chin up mate,

PS Just had a thought, that land next to the Sorting office in Tonbridge would be the ideal place to put such a school - on the edge of town so still easy access to the countryside whilst being much better linked for public transport.

Gravel Pit Birder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Building a large mental hospital here on supposedly formerly protected green belt complete with GCNs. Bizarrely the new place has a smaller footprint than the hospital they demolished in the centre of town with all its infrastructure and public transport links in place and that land is still empty - the world seems to be full of very poor decisions at the mo.
Best of luck; find as many protected species/habitats as you can and get them 'officially' documented if they aren't already, sure you've done that already with your in-depth study of the area...



Deano said...

That stinks of utter bureaucratical crap mate. From what you looks like it`s already been given the thumbs up :-(

Andy said...

Hi Warren

Really sorry to hear about all this, they call it progress apparently!! I'm going through the same thing as they are filling in my most productive gravel pit and am losing a great attraction for water birds. However, you never know, wildlife is an incredibly adaptive process and although you are losing some habitat I'm sure it will still be worthwhile carrying on your recording.

David Turner said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the bad news Warren and I hope for your sake and the wildlife around your home that things don't turn out as bad as you fear :-( We seem to be losing so much land at the moment to development and I know from personal experience that when it is a place which is dear to our hearts it can be very distressing and upsetting to see such habitat destroyed :-(

Phil said...

What a nightmare Warren!
Not much to be added to what's already been said except don't let the b******s get you down and keep up the good work whatever happens.

Marianne said...

I'm so sorry to read this, and do hope something can be done to make it not as bad as it sounds. Definitely worth talking to the RSPB, maybe also Buglife and Butterfly Conservation.

Joe said...

Really sad to hear about this Warren. There isn't anything quite as bad as the feeling you have when you know there's just nothing that you can do about it.

We have a railway line at the end of our garden with lots and lots of dense shrubs and trees and I have a horrible feeling that one day the whole lot will be cut back or removed entirely to accommodate space for an extra railway track or something. No plans for it as yet but inevitably businesses want to try and grow, and money seems to come ahead of everything else these days unfortunately :(