I was alerted several days ago to a new and somewhat controversial local planning application by Chaz Mason and his excellent Clayhanger Marsh Log. For those of you who aren’t aware, Chaz blogs once or twice every week on the birds and other wildlife he sees in his regular haunt of Clayhanger Marsh, The Swag and Ryders Mere. This keen and hugely knowledgeable birder cares for this area of open, post industrial land with a real passion and it was his post on the 22nd December 2010 that first alerted me to what could be a very damaging development in the history of this valuable open space.
Just a quick note to tell everyone, I have received some second-hand information that a planning application has been made for leisure developments a Ryders Mere (it was a matter of time I suppose). At present I don’t have specifics but I understand it involves fishing rights, formal car parking etc.
I was aware that fisherman had been deliberately introducing some fish but believe that most of them are accounted for by the Cormorants and wintering Goosander.
I will be getting in touch with Kev Clements to find out what he can tell me and will keep you all posted.
No sign of the Mandarin yesterday apparently.
He then posted again, later the same day:
Hi Folks, I have received some information from one of my sources (Many thanks for that) and can now give more detail about the Planning Proposal.
It is for a change of Land Usage to include formal Fishing and Leisure Facilities including provision of Car Parking and (Outline) residential smallholding.
The implications of this type of development on the more sensitive species in the area are obvious and I have registered a formal Objection on the Walsall Council Planning Services Home Page.
If you value the environmental integrity of the site and wish to do the same then you must do so by January 5th, the application number is 10/1566/FL
Thanks in advance for your support – Chaz
I have since looked into this and the application is now live on Walsall Council’s ‘Planning Interactive’ website. A sketchy, less than illustrative map of the intended site plan is included below.
There are few planning documents submitted alongside this application – the above plot, a location plan, application forms and a somewhat revealing ‘Supporting Statement‘. The history of Ryders Mere is short – the man-made lake was created in the late 1990’s after the reclamation of an opencast coal mine, but since its completion it has become a little-disturbed haven for many species of birds, as well as other flora and fauna. Fishing there, and the litter, disturbance and pollution caused by anglers and their ground bait would be a disaster for this gem of the local post-industrial landscape. The supporting statement contains much about the site and it’s situation to justify the commercial exploitation; most of these assertions don’t remotely stack up to me, but I’ll let you readers be the judge of that. It’s worth noting that the application appears to be from the site owners, Parkhill Estates Limited (who oddly, appear to have have no web presence) who held the site during coal extraction operations.
The final assertion in the Supporting Statement is particularly worrying:
‘The development could only enhance the restoration scheme for the overall site and its chances of long-term success.’
Few would dispute that the Mere is successful as it stands – as Chaz documents weekly, rare species, both resident and transitory, can be found there existing in peace with little disturbance. Quite how any presence of commercial fishing can do anything other than destroy this vital green lung is beyond me.
People need to oppose this development if they value Ryders Mere and the SSSI that surrounds it. Unfortunately, in the current climate, I fear that the planners may be inclined to support it. If anglers and their commercial backers were allowed to desecrate this wildlife haven then it will be an environmental tragedy. I implore all who care for the wildlife of the area to oppose this plan by contacting their councilors, and also by making objections through the planning system.