Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Courageous, consistent and persistent Peter Tatchell deserves Liberal award

No comments:
Well done to Green and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for being voted Liberal Voice of the Year. See the details as reported by Greens (here) and by Liberal Democrats (here). I very strongly agree with Peter's comments in response to winning this vote...

Peter Tatchell said:

"Wow! What an honour. I’m chuffed. Thanks to everyone who voted for me."I am honoured, but quite surprised, to win Liberal Voice of the Year, given that I'm a left-wing Green. It shows that Liberal Democrat Voice readers are non-sectarian and inclusive, putting values and principles above narrow party interests, which is how it should be. There are progressive people in all parties, apart from the BNP and possibly UKIP. We should work together more, focusing on what we have in common rather than on what divides us. In Britain, the combined supporters of liberal, green and left values constitute the majority. If people from these three political strands cooperated more closely, and if we had had a fair voting system, Britain need never again suffer a Conservative government. We could move the country forward on a progressive agenda for social justice, democratic reform, civil liberties and environmental renewal.At the international level, it has been a real privilege to write and campaign in support of the freedom struggles in Iran, Russia, Balochistan, Uganda, Iraq, Somaliland, West Papua, Sudan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia. The democracy activists in these countries are truly heroic and inspirational. I crawl in their shadows. One of the things I have learned from my 43 years of human rights campaigning is that no matter how small and weak we may feel, we can all help make a difference. I do my bit for human rights, as do millions of others. Together, cumulatively and collectively, slowly but surely, we are shaping a better world."

Bristol to Bath Railway Path damage

Copy of email sent to Cllr Jon Rogers this afternoon: You may have seen this post, with photos, on Chris Hutt's blog detailing damage to greenery on the railway path.

I'm very concerned about this - particularly the tree losses. They seem very over the top (and not the first time in council tree management history!).

Please look into this and let me know whether what's being done is absolutely necessary, is best practice and if so what kind of restoration work is planned.

Many thanks to Chris Hutt for bringing this to my attention and that of others.
Cllr Rogers posted this reply (below in bold italic*) on Chris Hutt's blog - do we buy all that the officer's say?? I dont agree with the 'low ecological value' statement for a start - they seem to have a very different view of the terms ecology and value to mine! All the techniques and processes used should be reviewed.
I have had the following officer response,
"We were aware of the sensitivity regarding the railway path and the potential negative impact on trees or vegetation. As such we have tried throughout the whole design process to limit this impact. Right at the start of this project we commissioned an Ecological survey. The survey identified that the habitats along the route were of low ecological value but that it was an important corridor of virtually continuous vegetation from the open countryside to highly urban parts of inner Bristol. It therefore enhances the ecology of a large part of Bristol by allowing species access to spaces such as gardens and parks. It is also of significant importance in providing a large number of people an opportunity to come into contact with wildlife.
"The dominant vegetation is secondary woodland dominated by ash and sycamore. We have worked in partnership with aboricultural colleagues in Parks to assess the quality of trees and the impact of the works on this and licences were granted by the Forestry Commission for felling. "There are two reasons for the felling the first being that the excavation of trenches ( into which lighting cables are to be laid) would require the cutting of tree roots. The root protection zone of a tree is generally 24 times the diameter of the tree stem. As a visual representation the roots underground generally mirror the extents of a trees canopy.
"The advice from colleagues in Parks is that trees do not survive if their roots are cut and the roots closest to the surface are the most important. The position of such trees could be remote from the line of the trench and to the general public could be seen as excessive clearance. The second reason for tree felling is to promote biodiversity within the corridor and this has taken place on the southern bank. A thick tree canopy prevents sun light to the ground flora limiting the number of species which then limits the quality of the habitat for fauna. The ecological diversity created retaining some of the cut back tree stumps and shrubs on a coppice cycle of regular cutting back can for example create more nesting sites for birds. The extra light that is let onto the ground will encourage more wild flowers, birds and butterflies and the additional insects using the space will also provide a richer feeding ground for bats.
"As mitigation we are planting new trees, which are native species unlike many of the self seeded trees. This planting was carried out in winter 2009 and more trees will be planted next week. During the informal consultation, carried out in June and July 2009 and throughout the planning process we attempted to explain that tree removal would be carried out and that new planting would take place.
"I trust this explains the approach we have taken and the reasons why."
I am deeply unhappy that the first that Gary and I hear about this is from emails and your blog. We have already asked that any Cycling City developments that affect mature and substantial trees should be discussed with us as Executive Members.This is a wonderful linear park and wildlife corridor, which we are determined to conserve and enhance as was confirmed by the motion we attempted to get through council in April 2008.