This blog is where you can read about the places we work to protect and the people on the front line. The scope of this blog covers planning, the policies and legal framework that exists to protect the best places for wildlife and of, of course, the individual cases that are the daily work of staff across the UK. We help BirdLife International partners overseas – and you will be able to read contributions from Europe and further afield.
Of course – probably of the best way to save a site is to a acquire it as a nature reserve – this blog will sometimes feature our reserves and the role they play in future of our wildlife, but the full story of the RSPBs network of nature reserves is told elsewhere: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves
This blog features the contributions of many individuals – I will have the pleasure of holding the ring and acting as the narrator to this compelling story. So a little about me; I’m Andre Farrar and my first active involvement with the RSPB was in the late 1970s as a volunteer with our Leeds Local Group http://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/leeds.
I was one of many who wrote to their MPs as part of the campaign to get the best outcome for what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It wasn’t perfect but it was a good start. Thirty years on, I’m still in the thick of it campaigning for our protected areas and special places for wildlife. Are we winning? Read on and find out, and see how you can help.
I’m back from half term hols and in catching up with
messages I was struck by the commitment communities are prepared to make in
putting the case to defend places that are both vital for the natural world and
a key part of their lives.
At home, the second full week of the Public Inquiry into
proposals to extent the runway at Lydd airport will get underway tomorrow. And it is in this week that our evidence will
be given and cross-examined. It’s a case that we’ve been following closely and
working side by side with local communities to ensure that the full range of
issues are fully argued at the Public Inquiry.
The inquriy continues
Another case we’ve been following is the threats to the Tana
River Delta in Kenya – a very different mix of issues but a similar mix of
local activism working alongside the contribution made by our friends and
colleagues in Nature Kenya.
This update from Sarah Munguti, Nature Kenya’s Communication
and Advocacy manager was waiting in my inbox when I got back to work
The Tana court case came
up for hearing yesterday 14 Feb 2011 at 9 AM as scheduled before Justice
It was however stood over to 4th April 2011
following requests by some of the respondents for more time to file their
responses and submissions against the community lawyer's application for
About 100 people from Tana Delta travelled overnight to Nairobi to attend the
hearing. They were joined by another 50 people who come from Tana Delta but
reside in Nairobi. Afterwards the community representatives held a
demonstration within the Nairobi High Court grounds with media covering the
demo. High Court Advocate Job Thiga who is representing the community addressed
them briefly and explained what had happened in court. He also spoke to media
and availed copies of the community petition to the media.
At about 10.30 a.m. the 150 community representatives
walked to the Vice President's office and presented the issues on Tana to him. The
Vice President requested a written petition on the issue and promised them to
look into the issue and even raise it with the President. The community representatives
wrote the petition, all of them signed it and sent two of their own to present
it to the Vice President.
It was encouraging to see so many people from Tana Delta at
the High Court and they drew the attention of many. Still more encouraging that
the community fundraised on their own and with support from well-wishers and
'friends of Tana Delta' managed to attend the hearing yesterday. They have
vowed to attend the next hearing, follow up with the Vice President and the
Prime Minister on the issue.
More Kenyans are aware of the case and issues in the Tana.
For instance, the Member of Parliament for Galole heard about the demo while in
North Eastern Kenya and contacted the community coordinator while he was still
Thank you for your support
Sarah on a visit to the Delta
I’ll keep updating you on both stories as they move towards
their conclusions. Both places have
benefited hugely that local communities have been central to giving Dungeness
and the Tana River Delta the profile and campaigning zeal that means they are
both getting their days in court.
Follow me on twitter
At last the Public Inquiry has properly opened in Folkestone to start hearing evidence that will decide the fate of wildlife and local people in the Dungeness area from a massively expanded airport at Lydd.
It was fantastic to see local people turning up to show their feelings against the expansion that is likely to damage their local environment and quality of life. The public viewing area in the council chamber was so full that an overflow area was opened up so people could watch and listen to proceedings.
The day started with all parties presenting their opening statements summarising the outline of their case.
It was reassuring to hear that both the council and the airport team agreed that the views of local people were relevant and important - let's hope they finally decide to listen to them then. In the only independent local referenda, local people voted overwhelmingly against an expanded airport - 2 to 1 against! They have emphatically rejected an expanded airport.
It was also emphasised that the local area needs new jobs - no-one denies this. However, the RSPB believes that creating new jobs from an expanded airport would not only damage the wider environment, but could also jeopardise existing jobs in the tourism industry. Why not promote this beautiful and distinctive environment as a place to come and see wonderful wildlife, creating a more sustainable economy, based on eco-tourism, that won't degrade this unique place?
Instead Shepway Council believe that an expanded airport will raise the profile of this part of Kent as a visitor destination and bring new people to the area. What would these visitors come to see? Certainly not an amazing wildlife spectacle, but maybe large passenger jets instead?
Over the next two weeks the RSPB will present evidence on the impact of an expanded airport on the important bird populations in this highly protected place, the effect on our much-valued nature reserve at Dungeness and also the impact on climate change.
Other objecting parties will highlight damage to the sensitive plants on the vegetated shingle from air pollution, the loss of the area's famous tranquillity and the safety issues raised by the development of such as a large airport near a nuclear power plant- in fact the nearest airport to a nuclear power plant in the UK
Dedicated RSPB staff will be here at the Public Inquiry for much of the time over the coming months - watch this space for more updates as the proceedings continue.
Tomorrow sees the public inquiry into plans extend Lydd Airport and potentially boost passenger numbers to 2m a year (they are currently under 1000) really get under way. We’re appearing at the inquiry giving evidence to back up our long-held objection to this proposal. The inquiry opened last week and then adjourned so that the inspector, Mr Ken Barton, could go on a series of site visits. Tomorrow the serious business starts – I’m on holiday this week so we’ll have some guest blogging.
Here’s a catch up on some of the reporting of the preliminaries (I don’t pretend it’s comprehensive and I would encourage you to follow the story up if you want to read or listen to every word).
The opening was widely reported on BBC, Meridian and in local print and online media. The Independent carried a double page spread on the morning of the inquiry’s opening.
Most of the coverage in the week following was repeating the opening positions covered last Tuesday – but the Guardian has picked up on the risk of nuclear accident as an important theme in the inquiry – and one that the Lydd Airport Action Group (LAAG) will major on.
Inevitably, angles develop in stories – here’s one ‘revealing’ that the aforementioned LAAG has been raising funds! Putting across a well-reasoned argument at a public inquiry needs resources – let alone running the campaign that led to this point. ‘Local campaign wins backing’ would be another way of looking at it.
Feels like the mix of local and national stories (not to mention the odd potty one) is positioning this inquiry in the public eye – not surprising, the issues are serious and the interest in the eventual outcome will be considerable. Meanwhile, you can keep up with the wildlife news from our Dungeness nature reserve.
Dungeness with birds, nuclear power station in the background.
It was high tide on the Dee Estuary last weekend – and it looks like the wildlife spectacle didn’t disappoint. When really high tides inundate the saltmarsh everything heads for higher ground and crowds were able to enjoy the event from Wirral’s Parkgate - the story made it on to the BBC.