I am indebted to reader Neil, who supplied the scan of last Wednesday’s Express & Star article about the planning application to convert the peaceful wildlife haven of Ryders Mere into a commercial leisure fishery. Regrettably, I missed this one, but it’s a true gem of local journalistic oeuvre.
Nothing less than a puff-piece for the developers, the article is fawning and completely uncritical of an application that threatens to destroy a well-loved local amenity. I also wonder how many residents of the housing estate nearby, and more specifically those dwelling in Ryders Hayes Lane, are aware of the proposal to construct an access road to the Mere from their quiet, residential street. I bet the ones that do aren’t thrilled at the possibility of having to suffer continual vehicular access to the site.
The article blithely parrots the line about vandalism which has already, apparently ‘part-ruined’ the site, which is news to anyone who visits regularly. The article, clearly hastily assembled from the risible ‘Supporting statement‘, submitted by the applicants, talks vaguely about the proposed ‘smallhoding’ and the increase in site security, however, no concrete designs of the building, or what it would involve have been submitted, only an area of blue shading on the site plan.
I’d be interested in any details of this smallholding, as clearly, staffing such a site full time could be risky for the staff in such an isolated spot. Since vandalism and mischief are clearly 24 hour concerns, that would be the only way to improve security. The cost of meeting such requirements would be quite extensive, so I can’t help getting the impression that this isn’t a serious proposition. It’s looking awfully like a softener just so Parkhill Estates – the owner of the site as detailed in big, bold lettering on the front of the statement – can commercially exploit a work of successful reclamation which has become a vital component of our local, post industrial environmental recovery.
I’m hugely concerned about this situation, and the future of Ryders Mere. Right now, it constitutes a rare and successful reclamation of former opencast in an area bligthed by landfills, spoilheaps, toxic waste dumps and abandoned workings of all varieties. There are plenty of commercial fisheries in the locality, and I don’t deny anglers their sport, but can’t we just leave the lake as it is for the community and wildlife lovers to enjoy?
It would be nice if, for once in a while, the Express & Star could take time out from it’s usual obsessions – mainly that of trying to become a poor parody of The Daily Mail – and actually do some decent local journalism. I’m not holding my breath, frankly.