Saturday, 26 January 2019

Update on the Battle of Beddington Farmlands

Spent the morning at the farmlands with Dodge, Tank, Pyro and Swifty. Looks like Viridor are doing a little bit on their restoration hack job (which I suppose is good news of sorts) and there are excavation works on the wet grassland area. In theory this area should be a incredible part of the restoration mosaic but we are talking about Viridor here who have so far engineered a local ecological apocalypse, have ostracised and oppressed the local community and are 7 years behind the restoration scheme, we are loosing approx 20 acres a year of a 400 acre site and 200 acres of those have an uncertain future with no management plan in place and all set to the back drop of a 300,000 tonne incinerator three times the size of Buckingham Palace looming over it all. 

It will literally be a miracle if a decent nature reserve ever appears out of this chaos. Its the world in microcosm and what ever happens here will be whatever contribution we make to the future of the whole planet- and it is not looking good! 

Anyway, walking around the apocalyptic landscape today was a testament to the resilience of nature to the corporate onslaught . Over 150 Teal on 100 acre beds being hunted by a Peregrine, 8 Water Pipit across the site, 11 Pheasant also on 100 acre (a very good local count), still a couple of Green Sandpipers hanging in there, one or two Tree Sparrows clinging on to existence and up to 22 Lapwing across the lakes and 100 acre.   Some of these numbers are a tiny fraction of what the site used to (and should be) holding.  

 Teal on 100 acre 
 Lapwings on 100 acre 
 One of 11 Pheasants (2 males, 9 females) 
 The excavation work on the 'Wet Grassland' area - something is happening here but knowing Viridor it will be a complete balls up or just a bit of activity to look like something is happening to appease the council enforcement team. They have sacked local ecological contractors and are not even talking to the local independent naturalist authorities for input anymore which says a lot about their attitude to all this. If ever there was a case study of  the perils of Privatisation and handing over environmental/ecological responsibility to Corporate power - Beddington Farmlands is it. 
 The 'wet grassland' so far? Will see what happens here. 
 Some more Viridor farting about on 100 acre - some island building for the Lapwings (above) and island vegetation clearance (below) . The 200 acres of sludge beds over 100 acre and southeast corner have no long term management in place and have been decommissioned by Thames Water.  If these areas dry out and are not managed properly for the important wetland bird populations that depend on them will be the next casualties- our Lapwings and wintering Water Pipit and Teal.  Viridor will no doubt use this farting about as part of their evidence base of activity carried out to prevent the ensuing further ecological meltdown and no action will be taken. Just another technique used in the process of managed slow decline and destruction. 

 Viridor's future photo angle for their PR machine - a pond and a load of tree whips to promote industry and nature in order to win the next contract from a load of council sycophants/corporate lackeys. A simple illusion like this will be used to disregard the ecological apocalypse they have created on site and the social oppression they have conducted on the local community. 
View over Beddington Farmlands from the railway bridge. There is potential here to create a genuine corporate-council-local community initiative that delivers a net gain for people and planet but the very potential of this is the very ideological capital that is used for the corporations to write themselves a social licence to destroy the planet. Sycophantic councillors/council officer play into this narrative for career gain and naive conservationists/locals are often all to ready to provide the necessary green wash for the corporate agenda. Chuck into the mix a corrupt career ecologist and you have all you need to destroy unopposed. Unless the unholy alliance of corporate power-council lackeys-vulnerable uninformed locals can be challenged there is literally no hope for nature on this planet and considering human life is sustained by the natural system- our extinction is certain unless this vehicle of decline is successfully challenged. There are few better places on the planet for this battle to become symbolic than Beddington Farmlands. We have a meeting with Extinction Rebellion on Tuesday next week to discuss escalating the Battle of Beddington. 


barry said...

Its not good when this inappropriate incinerator fails to fire up more hard core opposition if it wasn't for a few of you caring for the wildlife one dreads just how awful this evolving catastrophe would have been, unfortunately there is still time for this profit motivated company to wreak further destruction on this site. Keep up whatever pressure you can, the natural world will not be able to thank you because it is unaware of that which is planned for its demise and consequently has no voice of its own. The Oxon Feather. (Barry Hudson)

Belinda said...

But do local people really care about it enough? Or enough to do something about it? No fault of yours but that demo you held a while back wasn't very well attended. How will bringing in Rent a Mob help?


Peter Alfrey said...

Hi Barry- between the council, Viridor and the landowners Thames Water I don't think they've even really started on the full scale of the destruction they have planned in their long term agenda. The real rub is that they roll things along, open ended, looking for more value depletion opportunities, so we cant even make the best of what will be left (and they actually manage any nature conservation involvement to a bear minimum- enough for a coat of greenwash).

Hi Belinda, no of course not- 'nobody' (not enough people) really gives a damn about nature do they or else our natural world wouldn't be in an extinction event. However just because apathetic locals are broken, hopeless and detached from nature doesn't give the green light to leaders to exploit that vulnerability and weakness. It's down to the corporate leaders and politicians to create environments for humans to thrive and help them overcome their apathy to the world around them - not destroy their access to nature completely, pollute their air and oppress the few local community members who are trying to protect the area and its wildlife and provide opportunity for local people to not be such losers. That said we do have specks of hope from the wider community- our local petition did attract 5500 signatures and the engagement on our local community social media page shows there is a small but engaging wider community As what is going on is allegedly illegal and corrupt in addition to public support the main way forward in this battle is scientific and legal expertise/battle- which only requires a small nucleus of professionals and also another important development would be a small but highly disruptive direct action group. We don't need big numbers- just a powerful compact unit to attempt to bring Viridor and the council to justice.

Belinda said...

Like disrupting the work of Viridor and the Council?

Belinda said...

Also not trying to be critical, it's probably not your personal responsibility or anything, but the web-page is very out of date.

No news since December 2017 and no bird sightings since the May of that year.

Peter Alfrey said...

Viridor more or less crippled the bird group- they culled our group members from 34 to 25, stopped us from leading tours and increasing our associate membership group, withdrew funding for our bird report and have blocked us from accessing any of the community funds (which was one of the few concessions that were given to the local community as part of the incinerator planning application) and threatened us with banning us from the site altogether. We were co-coordinating over 6000 volunteer hours a year and they have done everything they can to crush it. Their agenda is for maximum exploitation so any effort from the local community to increase value on the site, public awareness and engagement gets in the way of that. As a result the website has got behind and focusing on the easiest ways of communication on minimum members and zero money- so mainly communicating on social media.

Jim said...

Sad description of events Peter. Best of luck with Extinction Rebellion and all your other efforts.