This blog is a celebration of the nature in the South East and highlights ways you can get involved and explore nature in the region. If you've got news of the South East’s nature that you'd like to share, please contact the RSPB South East office on 01273 775333 or email SERComms@rspb.org.uk
I was always told at school that history helps us make sense of the 'now' and prevents us repeating the mistakes of previous generations. Some of us must have had pretty useless history teachers, because lessons were not learned.
The UK Government's SEVENTH report into proposals for a major new airport in the Thames Estuary has been published and it's reached the same conclusions as its six predecessors: it's too environmentally damaging, too great a risk from bird strike and... way too expensive.
The RSPB has welcomed this aspect of their reccomendations,but we're not happy with the Transport Select Committee's support for a third runway at Heathrow; maybe an even bigger expansion west of the existing facilities.
One of our main objections to expanding the number of flights is the commitment to reducing emissions 80% by 2050; a legally binding agreement the UK Government signed up to. We applaud that Government commitment because it was made to address climate change, the single biggest threat to UK wildlife. If the Government were to allow any airport expansion, they'd break their own rules and undermine their own targets. That would be messier than crumbled meringue and mashed strawberry stirred through cream.
There's still plenty of time for those championing a new airport in the Thames Estuary to stamp their feet in the hope sensible folk will be ground down by their nagging. The Aviation Review doesn't report back until after the next general election.
Meanwhile, here we are with the indisputable facts bearing-up to scrutiny once again.
1. The Thames Estuary is a dynamic and unique place that cannot be reproduced on the same scale anywhere in Europe.
2. Destroying aspects of it for an airport would do irreparable harm to the birds and wildlife that live their fragile lives along its beautiful but inhospitable mudflats, marshes and wilds. It is not empty space. It's nature's industrial complex where air, water and primary food sources are manufactured and processed.
3. Consider for a moment the volatile cocktail of the vast numbers of biggish birds that fill the estuary's airspace and the dash of planes from runways in its heart. You'll need brave pilots willing to face that mix and still guarantee their passengers' safety.
There's still a lot to protect and cherish in the Thames Estuary and I'm sure there are individuals who will happily continue to ignore history and throw more money at inquiries. If I were a cynic, I'd predict we'll reach ten Government reports before we've reduced emissions 10%. But I'm a cup half-full sort of person, so I'm looking forward to standing shoulder-to shoulder with Mayor Boris Johnson as we fight unnecesary expansion at Heathrow on the grounds that it's too expensive, too environmentally damaging and undermines our Government's obligations to reduce emissions 80% by 2050.