Threats to our trees and woods continue, seemingly unabated. You may recall my article a few weeks back about the crazy, opportunistic idea (triggered by available grant aid not common sense), to put a bus lane through a nice area of parkland in Gleadless. Well at a recent public meeting, it was reported that the city council would now commission an environmental assessment of the site – ‘carts and horses’ spring to mind, as do ‘horses and stable doors’.
However, this approach still misses the point that this kind of green space which planners now call ‘Green Infrastructure’, and in the socio-economically poor environment of Gleadless, is exactly the type of spot we need to keep. It helps deliver health, wellbeing, and more to this part of Sheffield. It is not earth-shatteringly brilliant for wildlife; but an ordinary bit of nice, green, open space in a poor part of town; and used by local people. A young woman pushing her child’s pushchair across the area as she headed for the local shops is just typical of the usage. Where will those people walk if we remove this oasis of tranquillity? This is not just about trees, although the council assured their meeting that any trees felled would be replaced by ones, which ‘are fit for purpose’, whatever that means. We have had this discussion before trying to explain to council representatives that you simply cannot replace trees that have historic significance, like the ones in question.
You can help in many ways, by supporting the Gleadless Valley Wildlife Trust in their campaign, but also by lobbying your local councillors and MPs. Let me know your views and make comments on my blog. However, there is more and Star reader Mrs B Parkin raised a key issue, which relates to the original Compulsory Purchase of the land from the Bagshaw Estate, then at Oakes Park. Mrs Bagshaw placed a covenant on the sale that ‘all mature trees and woods would be protected’; I too recall that story but does anybody have the details? I cannot even remember who told me, or perhaps where I read it. Mel Jones, who is an authority on the area and the battles for its protection by the CPRE, does not know either. So, here is a challenge for you all. Where is the covenant and who can remember this? If we could trace the legal background to this widely held belief, it would be enormously helpful in future discussions. The story was that the preservation of the woods and trees of Gleadless Valley was not in fact enlightened planning at the time, but the intervention of one individual, namely the late Mrs Bagshaw. Of course with hindsight, the city council claimed the glory but…
- Sightings: As summer closes, and autumn draws in, birds are moving around, and in many cases flocking up. Short-eared owls have been seen at a number of locations and for example, have been hunting around Silverwood Lagoon. Lowland wetland sites like Old Moor and Rother Valley are getting good numbers of passage and winter birds gathering and moving through. Just as a flavour of what to expect, even in late August, Old Moor had 19 black-tailed godwits, greenshank, two redshanks, four little-ringed plovers, ringed plover, four green sandpipers, three common sandpipers, four little egrets, plus lots of lapwings and golden plovers.