You Kennet believe it – wildlife safe!By Adrian Lawson
July 18, 2008
At this time of year it is hard to see much wildlife – the trees are in leaf, the grass is tall, and many things are preparing for winter by eating as much as they can.
So the creatures with blood in their systems are inconspicuous, and it is now a great time to look at the bigger picture and enjoy the landscapes. I can now enjoy gazing at the horizon, and appreciate the open spaces without looking through the lens of a pair of binoculars.
So it is nice to hear that one of my favourite landscapes and all that lives in it has just been declared safe, as reported on page 3 of the Evening Post today (and see caption).
The lakes which spread for some distance between the canal and the motorway, a series of gravel pits dug out over the last few years, have been colonised by nature.
They are an area of pools large and small, deep and shallow, surrounded by trees and fields, criss crossed by tracks and little pathways.
Bizarrely this landscape, dominated by water, was the area chosen to put 7,500 homes. I laughed all those years ago when I first heard about it. What a mad idea.
Back then I had to toe the corporate line and help the developers to come up with the best options for the meadows.
Remember these meadows were not going to be built on, it was the gravel pits that were.
But I always knew that there was no better way to manage the meadows than what goes on there today – some flooding, some grazing, limited access, a bit of wilderness and lots of wildlife.
Whatever was going to happen would not make up for losing the egrets, the nightingales, the countless ducks and grebes, the huge fish, the tiny insects.
To lose all that could never be justified or compensated. If we can do that in Reading how can we argue against the destruction of the tropical forests?
And how could we prevent anyone building in the flood plain anywhere else.
The theoretical solutions to limit flooding were just that, mad theories. New Orleans had flood defences. Who could put a price on the huge storage system that the existing lakes and meadow provide?
Every year, like a giant sponge they soak up billions of gallons of water, which slowly trickle back into the river. That saves Reading from catastrophe and provides a haven for wildlife beyond measure. And now it is safe. Phew!