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the Eton versus East Chiltington chronicles

Final Spring in Novington Lane?

Eton's new town zone in East Chiltington

by Zsolt Kerekes - editor March 30, 2021
stream running near Novington Lane East Chiltington
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.

Sound 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.
East Chiltington looking at the Downs from the Northern edge of the Eton site
above - the new town site a central view - March 17, 2021
below - looking across the site (all the fields you can see) - July 2021
Eton new town site in East Chiltington  - looking towards Plumpton and Clayton
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.

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?

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.

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 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.
silent spring and concrETON image wrongthingwrongplacedotcom
What's this got to do with the new town? (These ideas seem a million miles away...)

We're getting closer...

I 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 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 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.
East Chiltington Eton site  - sad grasses and  weeping skies
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."

The Environment in History - lists books recommended by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

A blog about bees by the University of Sussex, Goulson Lab called - Does 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 flowers." ...read the article
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...

concrete(2020s) = DDT(1950s)

where "=" means "is just as bad"

Now take a look at some related statistics below.

Natural grassland covers 5.8% of UK land area (in forests and semi natural areas).

Artificial surfaces cover 8.3%. That's 43% more!
Those statistics on UK Land Use come from a study Review 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"
land ownership in the UK - click to see the full report by University of Reading
read the report

the loss of grassland to urbanisation
is happening at an alarming pace

grassland  lost to urbanisation in UK - report study
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 report published today by the UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH).

"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 the report

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 land-gain 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 Etongrad 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.

In 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

no Eton New Town in East Chiltington

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 story
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 town / garden city / garden community / garden village

Other competing interpretations are available.

why are they doing this?
the simple ma££s of planning gain

the landscape survey walks in East Chiltington rememberedEven if no one reads any of it in our lifetimes - some future readers might get something from it.
the landscape assessment walks in East Chiltington

hello Etongrad!
South Downs Eton by dog
Planning??? - 3 new guides
No Eton New Town - say new signs
Dear XXX [insert] Lewes planning person
BBC tv news - Eton's plans in East Chiltington