'Ash die-back,' he yells down to me.
'Not if it's not ash.' I call back.
Impossible to be sure how many trees have been felled on what was an embankment, now excavated and demolished. I counted some hundred tree stumps among a debris of stone wall toppled. When I find the planning application map re development off Brigsteer Road I'm incandescent with fury. Take a look, it's SL/2020/0783
On the north side of the road there's not a solitary tree on the embankment. Could be an oversight but that doesn't make sense because a couple of trees are shown low down the hill.
What is shown, carefully designed, is the new housing estate at Brigsteer Rise with its own trees. Detailed and meticulous planning for the new home owners. An enclave, the surrounding landscape obliterated, a blank.
March 2022. Story Homes can't control the story, the news agenda. Their development begins as Putin's forces invade, encircle the cities of Ukraine in siege warfare. Images of war and of building sites coalesce as we watch the news then head for the countryside, through JCBs ( tanks) and through our blasted landscapes. And it's not war, don't use that word -Putin threatens. He's 'liberating' Ukraine. Story Homes say they'll leave our landscapes 'enhanced.' Putin's war crimes, his targeting hospitals and fleeing refugees, mirrors the death of nature we see around us here. Loss of species, decline in numbers, loss of habitat. Wildlife as refugees, forced to seek food, shelter and safety somewhere else when their habitat is destroyed.
If I felt any respect I'd respectfully suggest that residents of our long-established community do not look to take a country walk through a housing estate/ building site when bound for Scout Scar. Especially when building may go on until 2030, we read, with all associated noise, traffic, disruption.
When new housing developments are planned, long before work begins, it is imperative that builders respect
THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
I'd like to believe there's hope of recovery for the wayside verge along Brigsteer Road, for our severely damaged landscapes. But we can find no reference to replanting. The embankment of trees, a wildlife corridor, is obliterated. The north side floral corridor is a passing places for pedestrians on safe passage past the JCBs.
Several of us searched independently on-line to find a comprehensive and detailed Reinstatement Plan for The Ghyll. We cannot find it. Does such a plan exist?
A friend looked up Siobhan Sweeney, Planning Manager for Story Homes and their Brigsteer Road development which she claims will 'complement the local area.' Do you know the local area MIss Sweeney? If you did you would not make such a claim. Countless trees are lost, habitat is lost, the landscape downslope of your development is unrecognisable. The strength of opposition to Story Homes 88 houses at Brigsteer should tell you of profound and reasoned concerns regarding building on this site. Now it's happening our passion for our environment grows ever stronger.
Your new housing development is within touching distance of the Lake District National Park but you do not once mention the environment blasted our of recognition by collateral damage as building commences. You speak of an opportunity for consultation with the local community. So might I ask why SLDC consultation meetings in 2014 bear scant relation to the scale of devastation here in 2022. And why residents overlooking The Ghyll, Brackenwood, were not told that this site would be collateral damage consequent on your development. And even now we can find no plans to tell how you intend to restore any aspect of this much loved landscape.
14th March A fortnight ago a huge load of timber was loaded and the vehicle revved hard up the slope, onto The Brigsteer Road, tyres shedding mud. It left the earth churned and brown. Two weeks later there's a green haze of tiny seedlings. Given the slightest chance, nature can be resilient. We must give it a chance to regenerate.