Final Spring in Novington Lane?Eton's new town zone in East
Zsolt Kerekes -
views below as seen at and close to
the Northern edge of the Eton owned site (March 17, 2021 - St Patrick's Day)
|Final spring?... the headline I used
above - does that remind you of something? |
For me it was half a
thought away from Silent Spring. I was going to leave it there.
familiar? Evoke any ideas? I'm sure it does for many of you. If not... Well
anyway - it does no harm to say more about it here. And we're getting
closer to connecting some ideas.
|the new town site - March
|Silent Spring is a book. Many would say it's
the classic book which sparked the fire of the ecological movement.
Rachel Carson's book was published in 1962 and what it said still had
the power to both sadden me and shock me to the core when I read it in the
1980s. If you haven't read it yet It's a true story by the way. I can tell you
this without spoiling the plot - the villain of the story is the agro
chemical industry and its indoctrination of farmers by scientific and economic
sophistry to kill nature which got in the way of business.
they do that? I thought - when I read it. My education was in electronics not
touchy feely biological stuff. The book made me angry that people could do such
stupid things. Didn't they know better?
Of course - by the time I first
read that book - 20 years had passed since its publication - and we ALL knew
better - mostly because of the impact that Carson's book and the movements
it helped to educate had filtered through into the public at large.
Silent Spring got to do with Eton-Welbeck's new town plan for East Chiltington?
Surely I'm not suggesting that DDT or some other modern kind of
organophosphate pesticides are going to be sprayed over the site to clean it
beforehand like some kind of bulk air freshener?
No. But similar kind
of nature impacting idea... (maybe)
Here's my thinking. Pesticide
residues can break down in the soil after a period ranging from weeks to months
- and then the ground can be usable to grow something. The soil is not as good
as it was before. And you might have killed most of the bugs and insects and
birds for a long way around - and you also might have ruined the health of
anyone who was breathing nearby - but you can still grow some stuff.
Especially genetically modified crops whose DNA have been tuned to benefit from
that kind of soil spring cleaning.
|What's this got to do with the new town? (These
ideas seem a million miles away...)|
We're getting closer...
think concrete is the modern equivalent of the 1950s DDT villain which Carson
wrote about in her book.
Once you have covered fields in concrete
- they will be lost for hundreds of years as a natural ecosystem which cleans
the air, drains the floodwaters and feeds us.
In some ways -
concreting over precious green fields - when brownfield sites are available - in
the 2020s in South East England - is more reckless and careless of the well
being of future generations than spraying the 1950s fields of North American
farms with plane loads of pesticides.
We should know better. And stop
such things happening.
Going back to my title - Final Spring - someone
who saw an early draft of that said to me - isn't that a bit strong? Didn't I
know that the first phase of the planning consultation would take 2 years.
Nothing's going to be built till then.
What I said was - yeah but -
I've seen how things have happened on other development sites in other places...
In those other places - the sites get cleaned up as part of a multi year
preparation. Inconvenient trees and hedges get hair cuts. So that by the time
the plans are ready to be submitted - the original sites are much tidier than
they were at the start.
So... when such developers get around to
filling in forms which ask questions - like:- will this affect any trees or
Tick the NO boxes, here, here and here. Nice and
easy. Shiny new photos in the ecological survey report to prove what a clean
site it is already.
Nature likes a bit of a mess.
So when I
wrote - final spring? - I did mean it - as a cry of warning. Because
if things go the wrong way - and accidents do happen - then I fear this could
be the last time you see these places looking as untidy and natural as they do
now. I would be happy to be proved wrong.
Better still. Stop the plans
in their tracks. At every stage. Protect the future. We don't want to be the
dupes portrayed in a future concrEton rewriting of Silent Spring.
|Rachel Carson resources|
|And no birds sing (BBC
radio 2012) - "looks at the explosive impact of Rachel Carson's 1962 book
Silent Spring and its role in the growth of the environmental movement."|
Environment in History - lists books recommended by the
Center for Environment and Society
A blog about bees by the
Sussex, Goulson Lab called -
anyone remember Rachel Carson? - measured chemicals used in nearby fields
- "...these are perfectly normal farms; not especially intensive, situated
on the edge of the South Downs, an area of gentle hills, hedgerows and wooded
valleys. Beautiful, rural England...but lets look at it from a bees perspective,
focussing on the oilseed rape, since this is a crop they will feed on when it
|final words on final Spring|
|Remember me saying something about the damage
which would be caused by Eton-Welbeck's unneeded new town in East Chiltington?|
And my new field equation...
DDT(1950s) = concrete(2020s)
"=" means "is just as bad"
Now take a look at
these statistics below.
|Natural grassland covers
5.8% of UK land area (in forests and semi natural areas). |
surfaces cover 8.3%. That's 43% more!
|Those statistics on UK Land
Use come from a study
of Key Trends and Issues in UK Rural Land Use - Report to The Royal Society
(157 pages pdf) (August 2020) - which (among other things) also says this.
"Landownership data is notoriously difficult to obtain in the UK
and even today information on who owns rural land in the country remains
clouded in secrecy and difficulties. Church and Ravenscroft point towards - the
problems of identifying owners, especially in areas where land registration is
incomplete (many areas of rural England) and land is rarely bought and sold
(registration only taking place as a result of such a transaction).
The current landownership structure of England is outlined in Table 4.2"
|Eco Towns, Garden Cities,
Garden Villages - I thought I understood English but it was a Developer who
spoke them. Any idea what they mean? |
| The simple words eco
and garden when prefixed to village, town or city
can add up to create semi-descriptive phrases which are power loaded with
wildly different connotations depending on who you are and the context in
which they are encountered. |
So you can't blame developers sprinkling
these wordplay sauces liberally around their prospectus chalkboard menus
to make their crunchy concreting dishes appear less ashen on the
palette de jour. It's only natural!
On the other hand - countryphiles
and rural protection campaigners who are at the unsolicited receiving end of
these communications commonly report nocebo effects - including headache,
nausea and a bitter aftertaste - due to a belief that jumbling together
good words to disguise nature harming projects doesn't make their digestive
outcomes any sweeter.
I was looking for a learner's guide to help
me understand DeveloperSpeak And in a few clicks I found a very helpful
phrase book on www.designingbuildings.co.uk
Here are links to translations of some DeveloperSpeak phrases
which we might encounter more often in upcoming discourses on wrongthingwrongplace.com
eco town /
/ garden city
Other competing interpretations are available.
BBC tv news - Eton's plans in East
say No to
Nolands - Trojan Horse for new town