The Forestry Commission has published plans for “new opportunities” in the Mortimer Forest to the south of the town. It promises “benefits for day and overnight visitors, including new and improved paths, trails, natural play, habitat enhancement and a viewpoint for all to enjoy.” That will include 68 holiday chalets in the heart of the forest and a £2.8 million boost to the local economy. The case for the development is overstated.
Fly-tipping in Shropshire was down a little last year but the overall trend is no change. Over the last five years, reported incidents have averaged 1,400 a year, mostly on the highways and mostly domestic rubbish. Over the same period, Shropshire Council spend £500,000 cleaning up and taking action. There were only two prosecutions and twelve fixed penalty notices. More than 300 warning letters were issued. Thousands of perpetrators went unidentified or didn’t face action.
I am not convinced that the official data records anywhere near the number of incidents that occur on private land, especially agricultural land.
The closure of the Co-op on Foldgate Lane for more than eight hours yesterday after a burglary shows how desperately we need a second petrol filling station Ludlow. The nearest alternatives are at Craven Arms and Leominster. But a second filling station for our town cannot come at any cost.
Plans for a petrol filling station on Bromfield Road, along with a convenience store, have split opinion. I only gave my support for the project after an assurance that the fuel tanks would be above ground to minimise damage from any leakage. But now the Environment Agency has withdrawn its objections to the scheme. That’s makes it all but certain the development will go ahead with fuel tanks sunk into the water table.
Theresa May’s appointment of Michael Gove as head of the environment and farming ministry, Defra, is a disaster in the making. He is likely to sweep away many of the regulations that protect the environment and biodiversity.
Politically, we live in curious times with no certainty that the government will be stable or strong enough to survive the Brexit process. Theresa May has reappointed most of her pre-election cabinet, but she moved Andrea Leadsom from Defra to become Leader of the House of Commons. Michael Gove has been brought back to cabinet as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We have gone from a barely noticed Defra Secretary to one that will crave attention by swinging a wrecking ball through environmental regulation.
Yesterday, Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, carried a green question mark around London to draw attention to the absence of any discussion of the environment during the general election campaign. Across the pond, Donald Trump is about to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.
So, what do the manifestos say about climate change and green energy?