Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Designations and Annexations

To read what the conservation people say you would think that the designations of SSSI, SPA and SAC were all that mattered. They are wrong. The chief designation of the public property of Blacka is the injunction in the Graves Covenant stipulating that the site is here for public recreation.

The draft management plan, out for comments at the moment, invokes all of these initials as if they had some credibility. They don't, but a declining number of people are aware of this due to the determined propagandising of SRWT and its muddying of waters.

The draft plan constantly calls Blacka 'the reserve' an attempt to indoctrinate gullible readers. This and the constant reference to designations amounts to an attempt at annexation and should be resisted. They are a business and they have their branding and marketing strategies which are a much greater priority than any respect for the site and its users. Typical is this, under Designations and Policy Context:

"The reserve is designated as part of the Eastern Peak District Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), notified in 1986 under section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (amended), and last revised in 1999. This designation was made in recognition of the Moor’s special interest for breeding birds, upland vegetation, lower plants, invertebrates and geological features. The Eastern Moors upland breeding bird assemblage is of great regional importance and contributes significantly to the national and international importance of the South Pennines (see above for species of particular importance). The condition of the site’s heathland is currently assessed ‘unfavourable, recovering’ due to the introduction of conservation grazing and birch and bracken control."
Sheffield City Council does not do anything like a passable job in protecting its public land on behalf of the public and failed to serve its citizens when these annexations took place. None of the designations, SSSI, SAC, SPA was put out to consultation with the people of Sheffield and the regular users of the site, as should have happened. Until there has been a genuine consensus built on meaningful consultation members of the public may feel that the designations referred to in this section are illegitimate and that the public may be justified in being sceptical about them and even consider ignoring any quoted injunctions. The fact is that in ascribing these designations to Blacka SCC’s officers and its elected members had their eye off the ball. A large area was established on the map by an office boy with a map at what was then English Nature. He thought he might as well take the line a bit further to go round Blacka with no knowledge of the covenant on the land and its governing document. To him it just sort of looked neater.

Another of these that gets quoted is the Special Protection Area This relates to a large area mostly not typical of Blacka and without its charitable status. Most of the birds mentioned in this section are not seen on Blacka. The designation was a job lot which enclosed Blacka with other places because it too looked tidy on the map. SRWT says:

"The condition of the site's heathland is currently assessed ‘unfavourable, recovering' due to the introduction of conservation grazing and birch and bracken control"

The nonsense of Natural England's assessments brings more ridicule to bear on the conservation industry. And it’s well deserved. All you need to do to make get 'recovering' status is to write a plan in an office then find a farmer to cover the land with cowpats!! It is standard within NE that they label an area as recovering as soon as someone writes a management plan; they don't actually need to do anything. Though the system is so discredited that they might claim a site is more natural when £20k is spent on barbed wire fencing. None of these designations were raised for public consultation and no notifications were posted on Blacka. Natural England or Unnatural England? How did the custodianship of nature get into the hands of people who sanction these industrial grade fortifications? Among those at the top of NE are farmers and business people for whom land is there to be exploited.

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