Harrow Nature Conservation Forum

December 2005

Chairmanís Report: 01.12.05

The summer has again been dominated by large scale planning issues concerning the Green Belt.

Wood Farm reared it head again with a reduced number of houses; we reiterated our fundamental objection to any housing on this site, in a long response to the applicantsí planning consultant.

Land Use Consultants completed and delivered in their Green Belt Strategy Proposals. These were mauled and watered down by the Council prior to the issue for comment. We had meeting with Trina Taylor, the Officer responsible and it is only fair to say that we found her to be sympathetic to our position. Two salient comments might be made: The general tenor of the report was long on landscape but short on biodiversity and this was noted. There is a real undertaking for the appointment of a biodiversity officer, although the salary offer is unlikely to attract a high flier.

Simon Braidman and Carole Lis are still battling with Crest Nicholson and the Council over the BAE site development. It appears that the latter are both prepared to break the conditions laid down in the Appeal Report, to the clear advantage of the developer. We are not happy about the situation.

Martin Verden, with the aid of my brief, and Carole Lis, presented the long awaited petition for Green Belt protection before the same Planning Committee that received the RNOH redevelopment application. This contains the prospect of a sell-off of part of the site to a housing developer for nearly 200 houses, once again in Green Belt and therefore contrary to the UDP. We have objected strongly to this part of the application, and I understand there was a considerable upset in the Civic Centre as a result.

One result of all this has been a substantially increased prominence of Green Belt issues in the Harrow Observer. Not before time and, hopefully, not too late!

Also, I note that the L.A.21 team has decided to join in the Green Belt protection lobby. We welcome their support.

Continuing diligence will be important for our grandchildren.

On a personal note, I have retired from my directorship of the Heidelberg Award for Environmental Excellence, following an International Meeting in Heidelberg last month. The Award this time went to a group of farmers in Brazil, for a zero tillage regime that is reversing soil erosion and increasing production with a consequent reduction in deforestation and an improvement in biodiversity. I expect to remain on the Jury.

MAURICE E PICKERING


Site reports

STANMORE COMMON REPORT by Simon Braidman

All the open compartments on the Common have increased Heather and Gorse growth indicating Heathland regeneration. Most of the current work now involves blurring the woodland/heathland boundaries by creating scrub zones.

BENTLEY OLD VICARAGE report by Steve Bolsover

As the leaves fall more and more of our time is taken up raking leaves off the main path. Unlike most nature reserves in Harrow, our main path is surfaced and is designed to be usable by wheelchairs from the Bentley Day Centre, so we try to keep it in good condition.

For a number of years now we have been rebuilding a gap in the hedge that separates us from the Council cemetery. Recently the ash tree that had been shading this section, and was probably partly responsible for the relative weakness of the elms and hawthorns underneath, blew down, and we took advantage of this to transplant two additional shrubs into the gap, a holly and a yew. Hopefully they will grow and help complete the hedge.

ROXBOURNE ROUGH Report by Dave Bolton

The main tasks this autumn have been grass-cutting and finishing and repairing our path. We have also been removing scrub, litter and overhanging tree branches. Paul Jeffrey has been monitoring our butterflies and has seen 1238 this year. Notable sightings have been Brimstone, Small Copper and Painted Lady (Itís been a poor year for this butterfly. Ed.) Even at the end of November our pond is still without water.

STANMORE COUNTRY PARK Report by John Hollingdale

This autumn we have been concentrating on the enlargement of John Hallís field (compartment 4). With the help of two BTCV visits a great deal of bramble, gorse and sapling birch has now been removed. The highlight of the season however was the sight of a buzzard gliding low over the trees and a few minutes later departing from whence it came, hotly pursued by two of the resident crows.


DEVELOPMENT REPORT by Simon Braidman

BAE application passed but council has gone beyond the Inspectors recommendation over footprint and height. Carol Lis from the Elm Park residents Association is following this up.

RNOH decision deferred during a fractious planning meeting. There will be a new hearing this month.

COPSE FARM A new application is in.


Thanks to Yu Xuan for the photograph of the saw


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