Final Spring in Novington Lane?Eton's
new town zone in
Zsolt Kerekes -
editor March 30, 2021
|above the Bevern stream
at the Northern edge of the new town site|
|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.
|above - the new town site
a central view - March 17, 2021|
below - looking across the site (all the
fields you can see) - July 2021
|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
How could 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?
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.
What's 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
No. But similar kind of nature impacting idea... (maybe)
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
consultation would take 2 years. Nothing's going to be built till then.
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 hedges?
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
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
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...
where "=" means "is just as bad"
take a look at some related 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"
|the loss of grassland to urbanisation|
happening at an alarming pace
|Editor:- July 9, 2020 - British grassland -
greater in area than the size of Sussex and Suffolk combined was lost to
urbanisation in the 25 years between 1990 and 2015 - according to a
satellite based research study and
published today by the UK Centre of Ecology &
"This information on how land cover has
altered is crucial for understanding the impact of these changes on our
environment, and helping us plan for the next 25 years" said
Dr Clare Rowland - who
led the production of the UK Land Cover Map 2015 and has been working with
hydrologists to map land cover change and impervious surface to understand the
impacts of urbanisation on the quantity and quality of water run-off.
Professor Bridget Emmett,
Head of Soils and Land Use at UKCEH, says... With a growing population, the
increasing demand for housing, food and fuel must be balanced with protecting
the wildlife and ecosystems that bring a range of vital benefits for humans.
Knowing what we have on our land surface and where is crucial when it comes to
planning developments and environmental improvements in the future, and our maps
are therefore essential tools for government agencies, water companies, land
managers, NGOs and researchers" ...read
Editor's comments:- I was unaware of the above
report when I wrote my Final Spring in Novington Lane article. But the dogs in
the street knew that there was a serious problem emerging from the
landgrab of greenfield sites by land promoters which were showing their
visible signs of pain all over the "save our village / greenfields /
rural landscape" web sites which I found on Google when the news about the
Armageddon hit us in February 2021 - when we were all closely confined in
UK lockdown #3 wondering what to do next.
In retrospect - the instincts
which guided the (anonymous to protect them) naming group to choose a
suitable legacy name for the anti Eton Mess campaign group in East Chltington
(to replace the temporary placeholder names used to kick things off by the
group's founder Marc Munier) have proved to be well placed too.
that context Don't Urbanise
The Downs chosen (in March 2021) to be contextually easy to remember
when placed on future road signs with their message of No Eton New Town -
proved to be an inspired choice from both hearts and minds points of view.
No Eton New Town
say signs in the lanes
In May 2021 - signs began appearing in the
lanes and hedges around East
Chiltington to alert friends and visitors to the risk that this
countryside they're enjoying now will be lost forever if Eton College succeeds
with its devastating new town plan. ...read the
|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.