Following recently published development plans, which would impact on an area of woodland near where I live, I have sent the following email-letter to voice a challenge to the plans. I am publishing what I have sent here, so that anyone can read it, and to encourage others to resist the plans –
Dear Madam or Sir,
Please accept my thanks for your considering this email regarding the development plans for the Caddsdown/Buckland Road area of Bideford.
As I am sure you are already aware, the vast majority of scientists and ecological experts are in agreement that we are currently witnessing the 6thmass extinction event in this planet’s lifetime. Unlike the Cretaceous mass extinction event, that saw the loss of the dinosaurs, or the Permian mass extinction event, whose total loses in biodiversity match many of the more optimistic predictions of scientists; this mass extinction event is not the result of geological forces, but primarily due to our global culture’s efforts in dehabitation, for the sake of development.
I write this not to be dramatic, but with confidence that, like me and many other individuals who live in the North Devon area, you will find the idea of further losses to habitat and the harm that can do to local biodiversity.
The plans for the development, outlined in this article published by Devon Live – https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/plans-huge-housing-business-development-4084422– show that the build would be immediately against an area of woodland, which leads on to a larger area outside of the boundaries of the photos provided. My concern here is that, even if the habitat isn’t cut down, this would likely render the area inhospitable for wildlife, due to the imposition of light at night, noise pollution, increased litter, potential human threats of violence and so on.
As this article published by New Scientist outlines – https://www.newscientist.com/article/2218235-thousands-of-uk-wildlife-and-plant-species-are-in-decline/– innumerable species across Britain are in decline. As such, any potential autonomous zone is a safe heaven for wildlife. These woods on Buckland Road are an example of such a space.
I am aware that the development plans are in line with the Torridge Local Plans, outlined for 2011-2031. However, I would challenge the degree to which this justifies the action of developing in this area, on legal, ethical and epistemological grounds. Legally speaking, it seems to me that developing here would be in violation of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2020, due to the risks I outlined earlier, as well as the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. Ethically speaking, it makes no sense to uphold documentation written years ago, when we now are aware of the danger upholding the documents plans pose. Epistemologically speaking, when the individuals writing the document finalised the plans, they had little knowledge of what the ecological situation would be now, so the documents are predicated on a partially fictional future, one would assume, that didn’t include the ecological situation that is more widely known now.
If we are going to consider the desirability of the development from a human-centred position – without the need to outline the value wildlife and biodiversity has to humans just through being in-itself – I ask you to consider these 2 factors. First, the developments across North Devon, most noticeably in Barnstaple, in the last decade have not succeeded in encouraging economic growth in the area, by all appearances. For locals, such as myself, it appears quite the opposite, with an ever-increasing homeless population and shops opening and closing down with alarming speed. As such, why is it at all sensible to assume that this will not prove to be another seemingly wasted effort, which affords little to any economic, let alone existential, gains? Second, the human educational and existential gains individuals can immediately receive through wild-spaces are immense. The increased popularity of forest schools can only be primarily accredited to the value those environments, and those who live in them, hold. This is also why eco-therapeutic practices like Shinrin Yoku are gaining popularity, amidst the mental health crisis we face. Woodlands like those found on Buckland Road are spaces where individuals can find themselves, develop valuable life skills and grow within.
It is my hope that anyone involved in the process of executing these plans, who reads this, will do whatever they can to halt the process at this stage.
I will note here that I am intending to publish this letter on my blog publically, to be read by anyone digitally, so that I can use what small amount of influence I have as an environmentalist writer, with the letter serving as propaganda to encourage more individuals to speak out against the plans. As well as this, I am in talks with other concerned individuals with regards to campaigning to resist the development through encouraging local rejection of the plans. I state this here out of a desire for good-faith transparency.
The American mountaineer and writer John Muir stated – “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. Why lose more than we could seek to gain less than we want?
Thank you again, for considering this case against the development proposal.