The Wild Side of Yorkshire & the Peak: Selling Out England by the Pound: Are We Greying the Green?

The Wild Side of Yorkshire & the Peak: Selling Out England by the Pound: Are We Greying the Green?

Having greened the grey, we now grey the green…and we have a government, who, according to George Osborne, believe environmentalists are a ‘sort of Taliban’. Not a nice comment and totally unprofessional and insulting but there we are……

Make no mistake, there are some bad things shaping up for the environment, so now, more than ever, it is time to stay vigilant and get involved. The Government’s review of planning and Green Belt plans is shaping up to be very damaging indeed – so much for David Cameron’s ‘green-wash’. Kevin Walker of the Friends of Gillfield Wood, Totley, has been in touch to highlight a serious error in the current designation, which may allow development by the back door in the Totley area. There is more detail on this and importantly a proposal to rectify the mistake. You can see more on this on the UKECONET web site. I wonder what is brewing around the corner in your patch. What’s more, the former Dyson’s refractory, research site is now closed or closing, and they are looking for a change of land use. Of course, the location has good numbers of protected species such as badgers but that may not carry too much weight with politicians who seem to think ‘the only good badger is a dead badger’! [See below]. Then the logic becomes clear as the land in-between this site and urban Totley is the area in dispute, so why now just infill the gap.

Across the county and the wider region, you cannot assume things are safe. Worse still, with the loss of many of our experienced and committed countryside officers, we face a situation where there are few people on the ground who know the places, understand the issues, and know the people. For example, Sally Naylor a former countryside officer for Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire has contacted me about an appalling proposal to take farmland and woodland out of Green Belt protection in what was once a beacon local authority for green issues. This hugely damaging proposal rides roughshod over local people’s interests and desires to pander to fly-by-night developers.

Unbelievably, a key player in this particular scenario is the Church of England, which, as a major landowner, wishes to sell its land, as the spokesperson said, ‘… pay for bishops pensions’. Well, so much for community spirit and the church being close to nature and its parishioners. Conservation does begin at home, as they say, and this sounds like looking away and furtively passing by on the other side. So if the church is selling England by the pound, what hope is they for the rest? Please let me know what you think or better still perhaps write to the Archbishop of York too and ask about Green Belt land at Chidswell in Dewsbury.

Sally Naylor emailed to give the latest updates and developments on this most challenging threat to the region’s Green Belt. ‘Further to the previous email it seems a possibility that Kirklees MBC are waiting before they withdraw the LDF. The full cabinet meeting is on the 10th July. The following is a quote from Cllr McBride in an article to be published in The Press this week. Cllr Peter McBride, Joint Cabinet member for Place, said ‘Given the response of the inspector, we need to assess the options for our LDF. On the face of it, it seemed that withdrawing the strategy was best. However, Kirklees is not the only council developing its strategy, and the duty to co-operate applies to other councils. The planning inspector examining the Leeds plan will be holding a meeting within the next week on this issue and it would seem sensible to await the outcome of those discussions before we take our next step.’ Yes Peter, we will be waiting …………

Graham Shepherd of South Yorkshire Badger Group has been in touch with even more cheerful news. Now you might expect that Graham would be unhappy with the Government’s ‘Badger Kill Programme’, at the taxpayers’ expense, but there is more to come. He has emailed about the less publicised and in his words, ‘…secretly licensed destruction of buzzard nests and eggs on a game-shooting estate’. Apparently, for the badger kill you can register your disapproval by signing the petition at:  . There is also more on this topic on my own blog. Please let me know what you think about slaughtering badgers and buzzards as government policy. Happy days!

Following my recent article on these issues in the Sheffield Star Carolyn Hodson was in touch to say ‘Dear Ian, My blood is boiling after reading your article in the Star! B………ds! The whole thing is disgusting. I have written to nick cleft, my MP about the badger cull. He said the evidence for the link with bovine TB is now scientifically proven. I wasn’t aware of this? [No this is not the case and Nick Clegg is mistaken – it is known as towing the party line!. Ian] Even so, the fact that Europe will not allow us to vaccinate our herds is another reason we should go our own way on this matter. I was totally unaware of the buzzard cull, and how typical of gamekeepers to sacrifice anything for commercial gain, can’t stand them (can you tell I’m annoyed?). I will also write as you suggested to the archbishop of York, I can’t believe they would be so irresponsible……with our money as well.

Well thanks for raising my blood pressure but better to know this deceit rather than not. I will do all I can, signing petitions etc

Best wishes


My reply to Carolyn is:

Well I do my best to keep everyone cheerful! I should also point out that I do work closely with a range of countryside owners and managers, including farmers and gamekeepers, and most do a great deal to support wildlife and nature. It is just the few ‘rogue’ operators that are the real problem, and many MPs, and other decision-makers who fail to grasp the real issues.


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