Extract from the 2018 Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report 2018
The first Conservation Science Group meeting of the year in January revealed some promising intentions with a 2018 Plan of Works draft presented by Viridor including time specific objectives that related to habitat creation, habitat maintenance and public engagement. However experience has proven that plans at Beddington are rarely implemented or only partially implemented and there are often more disingenuous objectives behind such plans such as appeasing local authority planning enforcement teams with cheap gestures rather than genuine works on the ground.
The petition calling on the Head of Council to enforce conditions on Viridor was near 5000 supporters at the beginning of the year. How much an impact public pressure could make on such a situation was also questionable. Fundamentally if a multi-billion pound company like Viridor/Pennon wanted to default on planning obligations and manipulate planning system fluidity into states of decline what could anyone do about it? The cuts in funding and staff of local authority made such bodies vulnerable in any legal challenge- the costs of taking Viridor to court to enforce conditions could fundamentally threaten the local authority’s existence.
Policy changes surrounding Brexit also created uncertainty. Would the new policies empower exploitative companies like Viridor/Pennon further or would regulatory bodies and public pressure instruments gain more power. Under a national Conservative government it seemed very likely that Big Money would become even more of a destructive force not only locally but across the country. It very much looked like that Beddington would become a victim of this whole mess, symbolic of national and global issues that threatened biodiversity, a deadly cocktail of an unaccountability of corporate business, eroding of regulatory body power and the dis-empowerment of local community and individuals.
The local Liberal Democratic government had sided with Big Money by having never publicly challenged Viridor/Pennon- a further indication of the hopeless situation that even formerly progressive parties such as the Liberal Democratics has been crushed into co-operating with exploitative systems.
How could any of the wildlife survive at Beddington in this situation of systemic and fundamental abuse driven by multi-millionaires and a multi-billion pound corporation within a global capital city where pressure on land was immense? It seems hopeless to be facing this global problem at the local level- how could local people make any difference at all? It seemed that it was yet to dawn on the people at large that liberal democracy had been slowly taken over by a dictactorship- a dictatorship that could only spell disaster for people and wildlife and for the economy. Radical action was needed there but was there any appetite for it? The past had proven that there was little enthusiasm for widespread activism locally..So where was this radical action going to come from?
With Viridor/Pennon Group shares in free fall there seemed to be a ray of light in the overall bleak situation. On one hand Viridor/Pennon disappointing shareholder performance could mean even less chance of their investment control board releasing funds to fulflll legal obligations to wildlife and people at Beddington whereas on the other could a genuine commitment to wildlife and people by creating a flagship reserve at Beddington be a good public relations triumph and would it attract a new type of investor- just as interested in natural capital and social capital gain rather than short term destructive disaster capital gain. Could Viridor/Pennon attract the intelligent investor or would the board of directors just pillage the company, pay themselves massive bonuses and drive the country, their own company and our local area and it's wildlife to ruin for short term personal gain? With the CEO of Viridor/Pennon in his 70's- there isn't much in it for him- he'll be dead soon and most of these Cronies running such companies are quite happy with a one way ticket to Hell - i.e. leaving a legacy of ruin that will not shape the future; the binge lifestyles would have been ample reward already for many of them.
With a Corproate dictatorship replacing Democracy in the pendulum swing of systemic organisation this is not necessarily a bad thing if Corporations can re-invigorate democracy on their terms, limiting the abusive element of socio-environmentalism parasitizing (e.g. benefit fraud and other abusive behaviour of well intended socio-environmental policy) and by appealing to shareholders who are interested in investing in triple bottom line indices- social, natural and economic capital- surely these Corporations would eventually dominate the market and traditional exploitative dinosaur Corporations would be on the road to ruin- taking a lot of wildlife and people’s quality of lives with them- but also eventually themselves, their investors and their own people too. Surely in the long term such abusive practises would lead to everyone becoming victims including the Viridor/Pennon perpetrators?
Surely it makes sense for Viridor/Pennon to invest in developing a flagship reserve at Beddington- they would lead the way in their sector, taking Conservation from the inefficient and outdated model of Non-government organisations led nature conservation to Corporate led Nature Conservation- a potentially world changing shift.
Would intelligence or stupidity prevail?- it really can go either way.
Pennon Group Shares February 2017 to February 2018 (Source Hardgreaves Lansdown)