This blog is where you can read about our campaigns to protect the special places that nature needs to survive. It’s been running for five years and covered great successes and some setbacks.
During this period the pressure of economic growth and calls, both in the UK and across the European Union, to deregulate has become louder and the threats to our natural world have increased as a result.
Saving nature’s special places means being active locally and tackling the big issues – the sweep of stories and contributions on this blog have always reflected that and will continue to do so. This will be the place to follow campaigns to save individual special places and to defend and strengthen the laws, policy and planning framework that are vital to their future.
Working with partners, volunteers, local communities and passionate individuals is an essential part of the story behind saving special places - and we'll have contributions from them all.
There will be plenty of chances to get involved – and to comment, add or argue with the points made in these posts.
Today's guest blog gives a flavour of what it's like to face the obliteration of your local landscape - with all its connections and heritage - not to mention internationally important wildlife. Friends of North Kent Marshes was formed in the heat of battle ten years ago when last the airport planners came calling.
David Leans’ epic film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” starring John Mills, opened with the lines, "Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within as the river wound twenty miles of the sea."
It was powerful, evocative stuff, and today we live on those very same marshes, have raised our families here, and we fought with all our might to save this most precious wilderness from becoming the UK's largest airport. On the back of the ‘No airport at Cliffe campaign’, we formed Friends of the North Kent Marshes to promote, protect and celebrate all that is so important about the area.
In the film, the marshes and the estuary are brooding, wild, almost menacing. And so they can be. But they are also magnificent, welcoming, and life-enhancing; they feel like they are part of your very being.
There is a rich cultural heritage here; our medieval landscapes have been superimposed with Norman churches, ruined castles, Napoleonic forts, and a more recent industrial history of cement and explosives. The Magna Carta is said to have been drafted in the old rectory at Cliffe.
But this human history is underpinned by an even deeper natural heritage. The estuary is an ever-changing landscape of soaring skylarks and ghost-like owls, of huge flocks of dunlin and knot, of herons and egrets fishing the margins while grebes and avocets dance on the pools.
Avocet in flight - picture RSPBImages
We have the UK's largest breeding heronry at RSPB Northward Hill
Our wildlife and habitats in the Thames estuary are so important that they have the highest protection under local, national and international law and if our government chose to destroy these globally important sites on an economic whim then nowhere in Britain would be safe from development.
Quite unbelievably we are back where we were only ten years ago, explaining to a new set of government ministers why there can NEVER be a new hub airport in or around the Thames estuary.
We have been here before & every time it has been rejected but we are appalled that some of those in the coalition Government, the Mayor of London, Lord Foster and others are so unaware of the facts and are seemingly still so ignorant of the global importance of the Thames estuary and its wildlife.
However, we who live around the estuary are aware of the facts and do know why the government must not allow such inappropriate development here
Our wildlife and habitats in and around the Thames estuary are so important that they have the highest protection under local, national and international law and if our Government chose to destroy these globally important sites then nowhere in Britain would be safe.
A twelve times greater risk of birdstrike even after aggressive bird management would make an estuary airport the most dangerous major UK airport to fly from. Safety could not be guaranteed!
An estuary airport would be extremely expensive £50 billion and upwards. It would not meet the requirements of the aviation industry and would result in the closure of Heathrow and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in west London according to aviation experts.
The argument for a massive increase in aviation capacity cannot fit with the UK Governments targets to reduce emissions
To site a gargantuan 4 runway 24/7 major new hub airport here would have catastrophic effects on people, wildlife and the planet, it would be environmental vandalism on a grand scale!
We call on all government departments involved in this major decision to listen to the RSPB - who can explain why the arguments put forward by the Mayor of London, Lord Foster and others are so deeply flawed on so many levels - economically, environmentally and ecologically.
As communities, alongside the RSPB and many others, we are once again stepping up for nature, talking to the media, making banners, erecting placards and putting No Estuary airport stickers in our cars We are saying NO ESTUARY AIRPORT anywhere and everywhere we can.
We are ready and we will fight any attempt to destroy our natural heritage with the utmost vigour.
No Thames Estuary Airport - 2012 the campaigning begins again.
Friends of the North Kent Marshes
Conservation and Communities United