Sunday, 10 May 2015

Election results and Beddington Farmlands Future?

Here's a good summary of the current national situation
Mark Avery- Lost Leaders

Locally, (round here) it's an interesting situation with Lib Dems keeping power so we've got the next five years of them hanging in there while being bashed by the Greens (about incinerators etc).

If Viridor start to build the incinerator, then the s106 agreement says they are supposed to assemble a new management group for the reserve and appoint a reserve warden within a few months of construction commencing. So that's a potential game changer.  Those with ill intent will attempt to form the new management body in the same way that the current Conservation Science Group has been constructed- a limp democratic folly, largely for cosmetic purposes with no power apart from what Viridor decides - so largely a patronising vehicle for local democracy that effectively uses local interest/good will as a rubber stamp to manage decline for profit . Those same ill-intending architects will also try and appoint a reserve 'warden'- with the loosest possible definition e.g. a security guard for the incinerator??

Ideally a good management structure will include a major conservation body e.g. Wildlife Trust or WWT Consulting, will have powers to dictate implementation of the Conservation Management Plan, will have local neighbourhood development reps in it, local wildlife group reps and won't be populated by jobs worth councillors/ council officers or 'title grabbers'. Ideally the warden will be a trained ecologist with experience in reserve/habitat management and principally someone who can manage the public access- to increase public access but not at the expense of the wildlife.

Problem we have at the moment is the lack of full local political support for the reserve and primarily the lack of enforcement of planning conditions by the local authority. If possible I am going to try and bring a legal case against the council for lack of enforcement of planning conditions which hopefully will bring attention to the current failure of the Conservation Management Plan and might also help in developing an improved management structure for the reserve in the future and also assist in getting more political backing for the reserve- if there is any political capital at stake. It might lead to my financial ruin and gaining fuck all. Only one way to find out.

Another major thing to contemplate is the impact of the Tory Central government on local issues. We are lucky to have the lib dems in power locally (all things being considered) as it could buffer some of the Tory policies but the Tories will work to opening up Metropolitan open land for development (the Beddington lane frontage is particularly vulnerable) as part of biodiversity off-setting . They will also presumably make it more difficult for protest groups/individuals to bring legal cases against the capitalists e.g. reform of judicial review. The EU referendum could be a complete ball breaker as there is a danger of loosing the protection of e.g. The Aarhus Convention that empowers local groups to take on the authorities and corporations.

 Then lastly but far from least is the plans for the visitors centre/ecology park in Hackbridge. This plan has a multi-fold potential- 1) to safeguard the MOL from housing development 2) To provide some gravity to pull the reserve development forward (the major investment will be dependant on Viridor fulfilling their obligations) 3) To generate all the benefits provided by major green infrastructure and the development of a major hub for the Wandle Valley Regional Park. It also has the potential of being used by the local authority of a false hoper- to string the locals along long enough to keep hope alive while simultaneously draining will.

So all in all- a mix of good and bad, standing at the foot of a bloody massive climb and for now there's only one course of action- cup of coffee (PNG organic fair trade) and then go birding.

(And needless to say now the general elections are over its a good time to remember that politics is not a once in a five year phenomenon:  People Power Conservation )

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