The Green Glossary – D

I finally got around to compiling entry ‘D’ for the Green Glossary. It was a bit of a slog. If you’ve got a suggestion, do let me know:

Dabchick, n. – It’s a Little Grebe, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Damson, n. – Fruit. Come winter, someone somewhere will insist on ruining a perfectly serviceable gin by saturating these uninspiring little fruit in it.

Darwin

Darwin: Watches over all good environmentalists from on high. Sees all you do. Darwin does not approve.

Darwin, Charles. – That chap, you know, the old guy with the long flowing beard. All-knowing, creator of all that we now see and believe…

Dawn Chorus, n. – A small piece of advise to anyone new to the sector: Should your boss say to you ‘would you run our dawn chorus event? It’ll be great experience for you,’ politely but firmly decline. If personal experience is any guide, you and your fellow volunteers will drink through the night in a misguided attempt to avoid sleep and subsequently be unable to distinguish any bird song through the sound of an angry badger trying to escape from the inside of your head.

Deer, n. – AKA Killer of woodlands. There are rather a lot of them about these days, apparently.

deer arse

Know your deer: Often seen running in the opposite direction from you, you flat-footed oaf. So it’d be an idea to get familiar with their rumps. Unfortunately I can’t remember what order I put these in.

DEFRA – The DEpartment of FARming. Or something like that.

Denier. – A curious bird divided into two camps; the Ostrich (head in the sand) and the parrot (will speak for corn). The latter of these is often found with oil in his pocket. Or visa versa; I can never quite remember. Both are equally deplorable.

Dog, n. – ‘He’s only playing, he’s dead friendly.’ Work on any nature reserve anywhere and you will undoubtedly hear these words at least twice a week as another feral dachshund attempts to savage the livestock.

Drizzle, n. – Default atmospheric conditions under which all practical conservation work must be undertaken.

Drone, n. (or v.) – Either an innovative new technology with interesting applications in conservation or how those in the sector sound to the general public when we get up on a favoured hobby horse.

Dunnock, n. – Little Brown Job. Sexual deviant of the hedgerow.

Dutch Elm Disease, n. – They gave us Bergkamp, so I guess it evens out.

The Power of a Strongly Worded Sign

Glory be. Miracle of miracles (and I’m not talking about plucky Arsenal finishing 2nd in the Premier League against all odds yesterday). My goldfish problem seems to have miraculously resolved itslef overnight. To recap, last week I discovered that someone had illegally dumped about 150 goldfish of varying size into one of the ponds on one of the reserves – a pond that had a good recorded Great Crested Newt population.

So last week I pinned a robustly worded poster up by the pond. No swears, but still, very precisely and thoughtfully worded to strike terror into the hearts of any passing fly-tipper. And what do you know? This week they’re gone. All gone. Just vanished. Had the goldfish dumper had a change of heart? It is entirely possible that they did not know what they were doing was wrong and were stung with remorse by my chastising letter. It is also entirely possible the pond was visited by a passing flock of a hundred hungry heron over the weekend.

taken.jpg

My original poster may have been a little too intense

People Are Just the Worst. And So Are Goldfish

Work in conservation for any length of time and you’ll gradually find yourself becoming a glum misanthropist. It might even have happened to me already. I just don’t know. Maybe it seeps out occasionally in this blog. Do flag it up if you spot it.

This week someone has decided in their infinite wisdom that what the ponds on the reserve really need is 150 goldfish of varying sizes dumped in them. Great. Fantastic. Thank you once again ‘the public’. You really are a bunch of unmitigated arseholes. If I find the person responsible, I’m going to make him eat every single one hundred and fifty of them.

goldfish

They’re clearly orange

Why is this so bad? Well, firstly because the ponds on site are rather good for Great Crested Newts. With goldfish in this pond, we can pretty much wave them goodbye. They’ve also dumped them at just the point when they are about to spawn; you can see them getting frisky already*. The combination of this and the presence of Great Crested Newts makes me tentative about electro-fishing them out. That’s if we even had the money to. And the time.

But the worst part is that I just know if we don’t get them out sharpish, then the public – bless ’em – are going to get attached to them. They’re going to become a ‘feature’. People are going to start feeding them. Which is going to make it even worse for me when I come along and brutally euthanase the lot of them. Apparently a little calculated pescicide will make me the bad guy. Ludicrous.

So I’m open to suggestions. What’s the best way to get rid of these aquatic interlopers?

* I should also point out that it is completely illegal. But you knew that already.

The Green Glossary – C

Another week in the on-going green glossary series. You get the idea by now:

Canada Goose, n. – A great big, stupid-faced, honking idiot we are forced to remain on good terms with for appearances sake.

canada goose

Honk, bloomin’ honk.

Chantrelle, n. – A mushroom and absolutely not an appropriate name for your first-born, apparently.

Charity, n. – The environmental sector is broadly concerned with the preservation of a robust natural environment in the face of ever multiplying threats and conflicting interests. That the human race is reliant on a robust natural environment seems to have passed a great many people by. It is therefore absolutely reasonable that it predominantly exists on charitable hand-outs.

Cherry Laurel, n. – Another bastard. See recent posts.

Chiffchaff, n. – LBJ. Provokes birders all over the country to show off their vocabulary by casually throwing out the word onomatopoeic.

Climate Change – Not so much the elephant in the room as the blue whale in the bath-tub. An issue at which the world’s great and good occasionally offer sideways glances as they sit on the toilet reading the FT.

Cockchafer, n – Low-flying, Lancaster bomber of the insect world. Yet another example of a perfectly reasonable name that makes uninitiated simpletons giggle uncontrollably. See Also: Blue Tit, Shag

Coffee, n. – A poor substitute for tea when it cones to fuelling volunteers.

Corridor, n. – A popular notion amongst conservationists is the idea of wildlife corridors. The theory goes that if I manage Nature Reserve A, which is hemmed in on all sides by shooting galleries and industrial wastelands, and you manage Nature Reserve B, which is surrounded by toxic waste and concrete, everything will be OK as long as they are linked by C, a thin strip of amenity grassland.

Comma, n. – For conservationists this is a type of butterfly and not a form of punctuation which we are notoriously slipshod at using sometimes to the detriment of our readers who have to ask themselves if it is entirely possible for a normal human being to hold their breath for the amount of time needed to successfully finish reading long and laborious sentences that don’t really go anywhere.

Commons, n. – Some misguided folk in the dim and distant past decided that green spaces would be so much better if every Tom, Dick and Harry could have the run of the place. For this reason, any mention of Commons is now automatically prefixed with ‘tragedy of the’. The folly of this policy is most visible on places like Clapham Common, where the high density of local residents grazing their sheep on the grass and collecting firewood from the copses has created a bland monoculture littered with artisanal coffee houses. In a perfect world, these places should all be fenced off with very large ‘Keep Out’ signs and rows of razor wire really ramming the point home. Only the likes of us will be allowed free access. The likes of you will be granted day passes after successfully passing a gruelling 4 hour test on grass identification.

Coot, n. – A Napoleon of the urban pond

Coppicing, v. – A method of farming wood. Exists in the hazy zone between heritage and conservation.

Cotswolds, the, n. – A magical place where nature roams free and all conservationists dream of living a life of gay abandon, with no thought of grant funding, targets or ‘engagement’.

countryfile

Countryfile:…oh bugger, I forgot about Craven

Countryfile, n. – The Great Divider. The Church of the Green Movement is generally thought to schism into two main camps. Countryfile is a television program specifically designed with the aim to determine which camp any new convert falls into. Upon watching an episode of Countryfile, standard reactions are either ‘this is Tory/Farming propaganda designed to maintain and reinforce the detrimental countryside status quo‘ or ‘this is a dumbed-down and fluffed up representation of the countryside produced entirely for liberal left city dwellers’. Either way, Adam Henson largely takes the blame for it.

Cow Parsley, n. – If you look out of the window at this time of year, you can probably see this stuff growing before your very eyes.

Culling, v. – If the general populace realised quite how many conservation issues were expediently resolved with a bullet, then we might not be quite as popular.

I’m stuck about there…I was working on Curlew, Countryside, Copse, Caledonian Forest, Cowslip etc etc, but I’ve run out of time. Do give me a definition if you think of one.

This Week I’ve Mainly Been Fighting Cherry Laurel

I’ve been having some issues with Cherry Laurel on one of my woodland sites since I took over in the New Year. For those of you unfamiliar with this git of an invasive, it’s quite similar to Rhododendron. It’s very tolerant, quick growing and evergreen and can shade out huge areas of woodland understory, impeding native flora. It’s also pretty ecologically useless; I’ve been inspecting large stands of it on the site and I’ve yet to find any birds nesting in it (or even any around it). There are often midges and something’s been having a go at the leaves, but the invert. habitation seems to be pretty low.

cherry laurel

That stuff back there

There’s a very definite advance line of the stuff – you can see it originating as thick barriers used by some of the hideous mock-Tudor mansions that border the ‘rich side’ of the site to stop the plebs from the estates round the ‘other side’ getting any ideas (I imagine). They’ve undoubtedly caused more damage than the occasional burnt out moped and bit of graffiti I get from the ‘other side’. The centre, semi-ancient woodland, is mercilessly free of the stuff, but it’s thick around the edges and I’ve decided that what’s needed is my own Maginot line and my own Schlieffen Plan of attack (yes, I realise this makes me both allies and axis in this scenario, and that I’m mixing my World Wars).

Normally I’d have the stuff cut by big, burly men (and women) with chainsaws and treated with potentially carcinogenic herbicides, but no money, you see. So it is once again all down to that hardy mainstay of the conservation movement – the volunteer fueled by industrial levels of tea and biscuits.

leatherface

The contractors are in and keen to get to work

One of the annoying things about laurel is that if lopped laurel branches are left to lie on the ground, they can take root and sprout new growth. In a perfect world, I’d burn the stuff (fire, the great purifier, solves so many problems), but the woodland is quite closed canopy and I don’t really like burning past March (however, one of the few saving graces is that because of the aforementioned avian aversion to the stuff, as long as it’s had a thorough check beforehand you can pretty much fell it year-round).

So my current method to avoid regrowth is to make a raft of any dead wood and then stack the laurel on top (mattocking out the roots where possible, or just bludgeoning them with a hand axe to let water and disease in). At first, this does produce a large and slightly unsightly brash pile, but after a couple of weeks, it’s already noticeably squashed down.

Where possible, we also built the rafts on top of newly cut laurel stools to prohibit regrowth. In September, I will probably come back and put a match to the whole lot…this has caused some panic; cherry laurel contains cyanide (or something similar) and some people have been a little concerned I might poison local residents. I’ve been assured it’s safe. I guess we’ll find out. If I disappear come the autumn, you’ll know why.

The area already looks hugely different, with a drastically increased light level hitting the woodland floor. I’ll be tracking the laurel regrowth and ground flora for the next few years. Anyway, a bit of a ‘this is what I did at work this week’ post there. But what did you expect? I’ve been busy. Stop complaining.

The Green Glossary – B

Another missive from the front line of the green movement. For all you non-adherents out there, the Green Glossary is a guide to bluffing your way through any conversation with an over-zealous, greeny-type. This week is brought to you by the letter ‘B’:

Badger, (n) – Pied mustelid with a tendency to evoke very black and white opinions. The truth is somewhere in the grey.

Bagshall, Steve – Musclebound pin-up that even the most misanthropic and cynical of Greenies (i.e. me) can’t help but like. Created with the soul purpose of seducing the more superficially-minded to the cause. Like a sexy apostle.

Baker, Nick – Bug bothering Baker badgers beetles, beleaguers bees and besieges butterflies.

Ban, (v) – The primary aim of the majority of Green endeavours is to ban or restrict any activity taking place in the countryside before they started to take an interest in it. If the activity is largely the preserve of individuals with more money and opposing political convictions, then all the better.

Bats, (n) – A bulwark against frivolous developments which unfortunately often offers all the protection of a wet meringue.

Beardy hipster

Beard, (n) – Essential facewear for 50% of followers. Optional for the other 50%

Beaver, (n) – The magic bullet that will cure all the ills and problems of conservation north of the border. Possibly by flooding out The Enemy. Causes some outsiders to giggle uncontrollably – See also; Blue Tit, Shag.

Bee, (n) – A fuzzy little black canary in the mine and insect du jour.

Bicycle, (n) – Essential mode of transport for all followers. Those in the movement who do not own a bicycle are looked on as degenerates, heretics and outcasts.

Bierce, Ambrose – Time-travelling, plagiarizing bastard

Birch, (n, v) – A tree even you can identify. The branches are apparently useful for hitting people with. Rumour has it that some followers of the movement gather under a full moon and self-flagellate with birch branches in an act of penance for every act of consumerism or litre of petrol purchased.

Birds, (n) – The C of E of the Green religion.

Biodiversity, (n) – A word to be sprinkled liberally throughout any communique, official document or propaganda piece. Preferably in at least every third sentence. No one really knows what it means.

Bittern, (n) – A bird that can’t be mentioned without someone, somewhere saying ‘Booooooooom’.

Blackthorn, (n) – A spiky bastard.

Blog, (n, v) – An obligatory extra curricular activity for all serious practitioners of the faith. A platform to yell into the void all that distresses and enraptures. A form of therapy that fills much the same role as the confessional booth.

Blue Tit, (n) – A perfectly sensible name for a bird that for some reason provides an endless source of amusement to the likes of you.

Buddleia, (n) – An admirably hardy invasive. Laughingly promoted as ‘butterfly bush’ by shameless garden centre salesmen everywhere. The butterflies remain oblivious to the fact the buddleia has been supplied specifically for their enjoyment and studiously ignore it.

Budget, (n) – A mythical concept which serves the same purpose as Manna or Ambrosia in other religions. Some acquaintances swear they heard tales of a colleague of a friend of an associate in the sector who once had a budget, but no one has ever seen any concrete evidence of this.

Burning, (v) – Either an essential part of conservation land management or a dangerous and deleterious practice. To discern which camp a particular incident falls in, consult the size of the land manager’s bank balance.

buzzard

Buzzard, (n) – Pe-yoooo. Simply put one of the most pleasant sounds of the countryside

 

Bracken, (n) – Annoyingly prevalent. There are some that believe a cross-section of the earth’s crust will show a thick bracken layer.

Bramble, (n) – A prickly bastard and bane of many a conservationist’s existence. Has often led to confused accusations of self-harm.

By-laws, (n) – Put in place for the likes of you, not for the likes of us.

Feel free to tweet any additions to next week’s #greenglossary, which will, in strict adherence to logic, cover the letter ‘C’.

Graffiti: I Draw the Line at a 6ft High Penis

For the last couple of weeks, kids have been everywhere. The woodland I work on has been practically lousy with them. Easter holidays, you see. They have been released on mass from the penitentiary-esque confines of the educational system to clutter up the place and generally get under the feet of their elders and betters. Not that I’m against this kind of thing, me being a keen advocate of getting the youth of today out in the countryside and inflicting nature on them.

This has been coupled with a noticeable rise in the levels of graffiti on the reserves and greenspaces in my area. Now, I’d normally baulk at drawing such a direct line between correlation and causation, but in this case, given some of the dubious spelling involved and generally poor penmanship, I’ll make an exception. It was interesting then, to come across a well-argued if slightly lofty piece on the general harmlessness of graffiti in urban greenspace. Coming fresh off the back of a week spent splattered with brown paint from covering up large purple phalluses scrawled across veteran trees, I thought it necessary to offer a response from the coal-face.

There are many, many, many…many things I could better employ my time doing than removing graffiti from trees. So as I try to scrub the ‘Scorched Earth Brown’ from beneath my fingernails, it’s not surprising that I might muse ‘why not just leave it?’ I can see the point, too. Sometimes graffiti can be colourful, interesting and beautiful. Just ask Banksy:

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.”

Neil is a PedoExcept it wouldn’t be a utopia, Banksy. It wouldn’t be a colourful place full of imaginative works of art to captivate the eye. What it would be is a landscape full of six-foot high penises, tags, exhortations to ‘Fuck da Police’, or warnings that ‘Neil is a Pedo’. When we talk about graffiti, just because we append the suffix ‘artist’ in the description, doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re going to get works of art. To use a completely one-sided statistic, 100% of the graffiti I’ve dealt with this week has fallen into one of the above categories. And it’s been on trees.

Ah…but I’m being subjective, aren’t I? What’s offensive and ugly to me, might be attractive to others. Who am I to argue with penises?* Surely they are art, are they not? Certainly, the Greeks were very fond of them. If an ugly, gravelly wall is a suitable canvas to be brightened by a colourful and perhaps socially aware mural, then why can’t an old, gnarly tree be improved with a giant, purple penis? It’s all subjective, of course. And that’s the problem when you start making arguments about subjectivity. No one can say ‘no’.

The original argument in Tales of the City was about a colourful picture on an old concrete wall. But where colourful, unasked for artwork begins, giant purple phalluses often follow. If the interesting but unexpected artwork on the concrete wall is allowed, then how can we draw the line at the obscenity on the veteran Oak? some people don’t find old, gnarly trees that aesthetically pleasing, and the graffiti doesn’t particularly do any harm to the tree – so why not? I could bring out the old ‘broken window’ theory here, but I think you get the gist.

*Another one to add to the collection; ‘sentences I never thought I’d write.’

The Green Glossary – A

I’ve long since pondered that what’s needed for the layman to navigate the acronym and buzzword-heavy world of the ‘Green Movement’ is some sort of dictionary; a Glossary if you will. This would help the uninitiated cut through the jargon, the science and the species talk that can make the world of your standard Ecologist sound like so much gobbledegook. Starting – as is the custom of things – with A, here a frequently disgruntled mid-level functionary in the movement (me) sheds light on the words conservationists use and what they really mean; revelations which will surely knock all that Xenu stuff into a cocked hat. So here, for all the non-believers out there – the infidels, if you will – I give you the Green Glossary:

Acorn, (n). A marvel of nature. When planted in the ground, within a mere 300 years a single acorn can become a fully mature oak, replete with a multitude of branches, small and large. Vulnerable to a whole host of injurious potentialities, from disease, wind-sheer, fire and fungus, but more commonly victim to clear-felling where an alternate crop would be more financially beneficial. An allegory for the sector.

Agenda, (n). An item often seen in the possession of your intrepid environmentalist. Frequently observed being dragged up the hill of general apathy.

Agriculture, (n). Potentially the movement’s greatest ally. See Also: THE ENEMY

Alder, (n). A tree readily identifiable by its repeated cock and balls motif.

Alien, (n). Anything with the temerity to be where it is not wanted.

Alkanet, Green, (n). An example of the general perversity of botanists in the matter of labelling.

Green alkanet

Alkanet, Green (n). An example of the general perversity of botanists in the matter of labelling

Amphibian, (n). Able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Despite popular belief that the world is run by an unseen cabal of lizard overlords, it is in actual fact run by a secret sect of amphibian despots. This is yet another example of the general ecological illiteracy of the general populace (i.e. you)

Ancient, (adj). As pertaining to trees, having reached an age of such venerable decrepitude as to be almost, but not entirely, dead and yet paradoxically more alive and of interest to ecologists than ever. As pertaining to ecologists, having reached an age of such venerable decrepitude as to finally be of interest to other ecologists.

Animal, (n). The stock currency of the movement. Cuddlier and more charismatic animals represent higher denomination notes, flora and insect life account for the smaller change.

Ant, (n). An insect worshipped by the movement for 364 days of the year. On the other day – Flying Ant Day – it is roundly abused and cursed. Many followers take part in the annual Flying Ant Day dance, which to the ignorant may appear like so much limp-wristed flailing. It is thought that the annual Flying Ant Day celebrations are performed in order to disabuse ants of the notion that they need not be earth-bound. As such, it has so far been a demonstrable success in forestalling the Rise of the Insects.

Anti- (adj). A prefix often associated with the movement.

Apocalypse, (n). A long-expected (and in some quarters, long hoped for) levelling of the playing field.

Arborist, (n). Lunatics who sit in the crown of trees, throwing chainsaws back and forth, whistling all the while. They perform the same religious function as the bull-leapers of Minoan Crete.

Arctic, (n). An Atlantis for the 26th Century.

Ash, (n). An Elm for the 21st Century

Aster, (n). Probably what that pretty flower that caught your eye was.

Attenborough, David – A major deity of the movement. To be worshipped in 1-hour stretches on Sunday afternoons, not unlike other, more erroneously popular deities.

Autumn, (n). A season. A time of year notable amongst conservationists as the period when they start to think about, maybe, possibly getting out and doing some work. Just as soon as the weather clears.

Avocet, (n). A stilt-walking, long-faced, poster-boy and corporate shill for a major arm of the movement.

Next week: B. Please send in your suggestions

Green Elephants

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a ‘brilliant idea’ must be in want of a fortune. And with that rather laboured introduction, I think it’s only right that I get straight to the point: The Garden Bridge. Or rather, the Garden Bridge and its ilk.

green elephants

I’ll admit, for once I am feeling quite smug about this week’s title

Everyone’s got a ‘brilliant idea’. Take me, I have about five a day (although admittedly nutella-bacon sandwiches might not have been the product of a Spike operating at the peak of his mental powers). Problem is, these days an idea can very rapidly go from ‘in here’¹ to ‘out there’ thanks to Bloody Twitter, bypassing the much neglected ‘actually thinking it through logically’-stage. If you’re a famous person, a person with a lot of pull or some influential friends, or just a ruddy loud mouth narcissist, these ‘brilliant ideas’ can very quickly develop into a bit of a bandwagon.

It’s true there is now a generation that ‘like’² things. Wildlife charities are desperately (and occasionally embarrassingly) trying to make hay out of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and to an extent projects like the Garden Bridge or London National Park City³ feed on them, like bloated, green, trunked pachyderms. Or something.

Green-y, fluffy-on-the-surface projects tend to do quite well out of this click button, armchair conservationist demographic. There’s a definite sense of ‘It’s Green, yeah, let’s do it!’ – and kudos to them for taking that groundswell of ‘likes’ and turning it into something more solid. My concern is that the why is all too often subservient to the what. There’s a line about could we and should we in here somewhere.

Take the blasted Garden Bridge (no, please…), with its £60M of public money and £3.5M of annual maintenance costs in perpetuity (and just for comparison here, the London Wildlife Trust with their 400+ odd hectares of nature reserves and an annual expenditure of around £2.5M…but let’s not get lost down a Garden Bridge cul-de-sac). It sounded like a great idea when you first heard it, but then you scratched beneath the surface, you realised that they’re closing libraries in Lambeth, and you started to wonder…what is this adding? What are we actually getting for our money here?

Particularly as we are now in the age of the Kickstarter, these projects can quickly crop up and before long a few people have slung a tenner at it and it has gathered some momentum. Green walls at bus-stops? Sure, that’ll work. No problem. I mean, you might want to avoid putting them on any night bus routes… Or a milk-float-potting-shed? Why not? Or, rather, why?

I’m not really sure where I’m leading with all this, except that I’ll shortly be announcing the launch of my new pop-up nutella and bacon sandwich bar. Donations welcome.

 

¹ *Taps head thoughtfully* – Sorry, the blog now appears to come with added stage directions. It’s a multisensory experience. Sort of.

² And, by the way, feel free to ‘like’ the blog. If only for the positive affirmation it will give me. It absolutely, definitely will not achieve anything. Although the key difference between Adventures in Conservation and the National Park City, say, is that I’ll carry on regardless of whether people ‘like’ it or not. So there.

³ About which I was briefly positive before reverting to type. I’m still largely confused about just what this will achieve and how.

Watered-Down Species Protection: A Conspiracy Theory

It can’t all be fun and games over here at Adventures in Conservation, you know. After all the irreverence and flippancy of recent posts, I thought it worth dropping a short reminder that yes, actually, I do occasionally get around to addressing serious issues. Don’t let that be a reason to stop reading, mind. I’ll try to keep it brief.

It’s entirely possible that there is a direct correlation between the first new series of the X-Files in 14 years and my current predilection for conjuring conspiracy theories out of thin air. This week I have managed to convince myself that there is something nebulous and sinister connecting three stories I have read:

Defra rows back on it’s attempt to close the UK’s wildlife crime unit

Natural England withdraws funding for Local Environment Records Centres

Defra and Natural England open consultation on new policies for European Protected Species licences

All this in the space of a couple of months. Is anyone out there having the same dark and disturbed paranoid thoughts? Or have I drifted far into the realms of the tin-foil hat-wearers of the world? Just skimming through the proposed new policies for European Protected Species licensing gave me a slightly uneasy feeling.

tinfoil hat

The authors new head-gear: Rubbish at keeping the rain out

I may get into this further at a later date, but there are a few things here that set the alarm bells ringing. Firstly, the word ‘benefit’ is used 36 times. Only once is that in relation to developers, the other 35 in relation to protected species. It surely must be clear to anyone reading the proposed policy that it is absolutely, positively for the benefit of all those Great Crested Newts out there. These policy changes are a boon for newts. And guess what? It’s a total win-win! All these proposals, by-the-by, just happen to also have great benefits for developers. Entirely a side-product, you understand. A happy coincidence…Is it conceivable that they are perhaps protesting just a teeny bit too much?

Take for example the proposal to reduce investment in excluding and relocating protected species from development sites and increase investment in the provision of compensatory habitat. Seems sensible. Though the example used here is one where a convenient, more suitable habitat just happens to exist nearby on Council Land. There’s far too much wriggle room and wooliness here for me, but then there is this very honest statement at the foot of the page:

The terms of the licence make lawful specified operations which would be expected to cause mortality of some GCN on the development site.

Jumping ahead, policy 4 concerns surveys. Natural England tell us:

We encounter some cases where the range of foreseeable impacts can be predicted with some certainty, in the absence of the normal level of survey information. In some of these cases the cost of collecting the additional information can sometimes be disproportionate to the additional certainty that it would offer.

And of course the example of where this can make a real positive for protected species (while also, of course, having a few tiny benefits for developers), is in bypassing the need for further surveys to confirm a protected species is present where the existing evidence suggests it does. Thus speeding up the whole process for the developer. There is no mention whether this could also be adopted where there is an absence of evidence for protected species for example, but is it too much of a stretch to think that this is where it is leading?

I may be joining the wrong dots here, but it all seems to add up to something a little sinister.