Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Beaky Bat

This is a young male common pipistrelle bat, which was found on the end of someone's shoe in Surbiton. He is called 'Beaky'. In naming a bat, some of us follow a convention of using the road name where they were found - in this case Beaconsfield Road - to  remember the return location. Over years of bat care, naming assists in reminding us of those  difficult injuries, strange locations, and any sympathetic vets we may have found along the way.

Beaky at the top of the flight cage
Beaky only weighed 3g on arrival and was  fed small amounts of mini-mealworms four times daily. He was soon self-feeding, and within ten days had doubled his body weight spending his time sitting in his food dish. 

Unfortunately his wings were stiff and he has never flown. He will do press-ups and wing stretches but not fly. He crawls to the top of his practice flight tent and goes to sleep. He has gone on holiday to Demian's house so that he can have some flight therapy.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Oil drilling and fracking in the Surrey Hills

'Having been harrassd by too much thinking and too many trivial engagements, and an employment that I shall never like, I determined that I would respire one mouthfull of real country air if possible and I know at the same time that pollution of smoke reaches ten miles round the Metropolis. I had heard much of Leithe Hills and of Box Hill in the neighbourhood of Dorking. . . . Remember that I am no Welshman, therefore to me these Hills are Cader Idris's and Snowdens.— (The Letters of Robert Bloomfield: to George Bloomfield, 17 April 1803)'.

John Clare's Swaddywell  Landyke Trust

So I wonder what his friend and defender of the environment, John Clare, would have made of the current plans for oil drilling at Leith Hill; that threaten archeological and wildlife features alike. Some of the ancient droves and sunken lanes will be destroyed by vehicular movements and current wisdom suggests that oil drilling carries the same risk of water contamination as does fracking. It is a paradym shift in the way we now view the environment and its dwindling resources.

John Clare had absolute clarity on the roots and impacts of privatisation on our natural heritage, as common land disappeared under the Enclosure Acts, leaving rural folk alienated and forced into penury. Two lost springs in Helpston village were described thus:

vile enclosure rifld thine
mine in manhoods trouble fell
I sympathise thy  fate wi mine
I love thee passing well

He also incredulously recorded: ..."avarice is never conquored, such is the cunning of avarice [that] like the tricks of a conjuror [it] defies detection."

Friends and colleagues are so incredulous that this could even happen - far too much to compute- the import is passing them by. For them the links are here:

The Surrey Hills sits on the fifth largest oil field in the UK and prospective drilling tests are set to begin this year. There may be an oil rig on top of  Leith Hill in the near future.

Specifically, the area or and around Leith Hill is where Europa Oil & Gas (in conjunction with the UK government) are interested in extracting an estimated five million barrels’ of oil under the hills.

Europa Oil & Gas will apparently be attempting to horizontally drill using a rig that passes under Coldharbour Village. This on its own will entail cutting down a hectare of trees and constructing a lofty and highly visible drilling rig.
The Surrey Hills has a degree of protection because it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but the slide down the slippery slope has started. Local campaigners have set up a protest group on Facebook

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

King Athelstan Recreation Ground: 11 cubic metres

There are a number of routes by which council decisions are made. Officers make decisions, hopefully based on the greater good. Councillors are lobbied by residents, which can lead to powerful but not necessarily good results. In past years, several London boroughs have requested  that I undertake bat surveys at the council's expense; perhaps because one member of the public has commented that an area is too dark at night and additional lighting should be installed.

The council then look at the survey results and recommendations,  weigh them against their current policies as well as legislation pertaining to biodiversity and priority species; and make a decision that the case has or has not been proven. 

I am not sure what processes have lead to the decision regarding the new vehicular and pedestrian route around the perimeter of  King Athelstan recreation ground along Villiers Road; but they do not seem to be matched against any of the policies.

Neither do they recognise the councils documents on Strategic Flood Risk Assessment; exacerbated flood risk as demonstrated by the Environment Agencies Flood Map (which shows that this is in the highest risk area for flooding, see below), British Standard: Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction BS5837: 2012 pertaining to heavy vehicles on the root plates of trees and the root protection zone, the desirability of permeable surfaces, the needs of biodiversity, the urban heat island effect etc. etc.

What is more confusing is that there are ten operatives working for Cappagh; on this project for  two  weeks so far, complete with two caravans and heavy plant (but no tree protection). This is a massive investment, requiring ongoing maintenance.

uncapped syringes
By contrast take a look at the nearby public footpath along Hogsmill Lane, where the riverbank is completely overgrown, strewn with litter encouraging drug use and consequent syringes.


see also posts: -urbanisation-and-loss-of verges in the borough and rainscapes-in-lb-enfield

Ironically, a development proposal for a site almost opposite the recreation ground, at 40 Villiers Road, was subject to a planning appeal APP/Z5630/W/16/3165508 (May 2017). The planning inspector did not like the loss of 11 cubic metres from the storage capacity of the floodplain. He said,

'Detailed information has not been provided in terms of how the development would compensate for the 11 cubic metres loss in floodplain storage. Consequently, I do not have adequate information to demonstrate that the proposal would not increase flood risk off site through a loss of flood storage. Finally, I do not consider that in flood risk terms the application has been the subject of a robust sequential test.

Hence, I cannot be certain that it would not be possible for the development to be located in an area with a lower probability of flooding. For the above reasons, I conclude that I do not have enough information to demonstrate that the proposal would not give rise to unacceptable flood risks. Therefore, the development would not accord with the flood risk aims of the National Planning Policy Framework, the National Planning Practice Guidance, Policy DM4 of the CS and Policy 5.12 of the London Plan 2016.