Wednesday 2 August 2017

Almost approaching minor victory re. Arbury Road

You've either been following this or you haven't. You probably haven't. Either way, here's some of the most recent email I've had on the subject:

I met with County Officers and their landscape contractor on site last week.
We agreed that the priority was establishing the new hedge line, through retaining the existing mulch, continuing to water, and removing the bindweed from the base, plus any larger competing ruderal species such as Sow Thistle or Prickly Ox Tongue. No spraying will be undertaken along the hedge line to encourage reestablishment of species from the seed bank or retained roots. I could see some Hedge Woundwort returning, which is encouraging. Officers are willing to provide additional planting of native hedgerow ground flora plugs, which would be implemented during or post the construction of the new cycle way this autumn. I suggested that we continue to monitor which species come in naturally and assess what additional species would be best suited.
Holes have been cut at suitable interval at ground level along the temporary fence lines. These are  150mm x 150mm which will be adequate for hedgehogs, the wire is thick enough to retain this diameter if not tampered with.
OK so lets break that down...

City Deal removed massive old hedge to make room for a much needed new cycle lane, and re-planted too late in the season, with many of the wrong species for the site. This included planting toxic berry producing bushes right in front of a primary school and didn't respect local hedging culture or ecology. The result is that they're having to water (a lot) through the mulch they put down - said mulch in itself only allowed tough, ineradicable root stocks to come back through. Things like bindweed. They then put a fence up that had gaps smaller than hedgehogs - a genuinely inhumane thing to do, and pretended that was all tickety boo. They did this whole thing 6 months ahead of when they said they would, so there was no opportunity to get a better planting scheme and a decent local survey (my FOI regarding ecological survey of the site is still unanswered). The new hedge will now have concrete either side - so native undergrowth species can't re-establish themselves, and the haste to get this done means we've lost dozens of species from the site.

Or, in other words, they turned an easy win with solid ecological improvements into a complete pigs ear.

And every part of trying to lessen the damage has been a fight - like, a real battle. 

But after months of fannying on they're finally saying they'll do the minimum to stop the whole thing being a complete balls up.

The lesson here? City Deal need to show they've learned from this. And they need to do so really rather soon. I'd love to declare this a victory but lets be honest, this mitigates a tiny part of the damage done, when the whole scheme could have been so very much better. 

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