Section: Environment

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Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 2: cause and effect

Tony Whitehead
view of Dartmoor, close-cropped yellowed grass

In the second of three articles, environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers how Dartmoor’s nature came to be in such a poor state. In part one, I paid attention to two of Dartmoor’s key wildlife habitats: the blanket bogs and upland heaths. Over the past 150 years, Dartmoor’s blanket bogs were cut for peat, drained for […]

Winter night skies – ancient and modern

Bob Mizon

Arching across the winter night sky from horizon to horizon is the silvery stream of the Milky Way, our galaxy of possibly half a trillion stars, the second largest of a family of about fifty galaxies that form the so-called Local Group. The Milky Way flows through ancient constellations: Canis Major, the great dog; Orion, […]

A breath or two of hope

Jo Molyneux

Recently I have begun feeling a little swamped by depressing stories regarding the scale of Covid-19 infections, Tory party skullduggery, disinformation and the state of our planet. There are a million and one minor stresses for us all, on top of that. It didn’t feel quite so bad in the summer, but now the nights […]

Jenrick’s planning reforms have nothing to say about tax dodges

Miles King

It’s the last day for responses to the Government’s latest proposals to reform the planning system, to “level up” and solve the housing crisis, if you believe the spin. The proposals include zoning land (at a large scale) for development and could create a cash bonanza for landowners, as illustrated by this local story. A couple […]

Why we should all care about the betrayal of British farmers

Sadie Parker

Farmers will be better off if we vote to leave the EU, they said. We’d decide our own rural strategy, abolish the hated basic payment system, pay farmers more, keep and maybe even enhance farmers’ subsidies just as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland do. And we’d get rid of those pesky regulations — all while improving […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 1: how meaningful is protection?

Tony Whitehead

Environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers the extent to which Dartmoor’s nature is protected, and the shocking condition of its protected sites. On 28 September Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030. A fine ambition, of course, and to be welcomed. In the government statement that accompanied the announcement […]

Lambs to the slaughter

Miles King

As we wait for what feels like the final slow-motion spin of the car as it hurtles inexorably towards the cliff edge, wondering if our heroes are going to escape from this seemingly impossible situation … again … no, stop there. Enough with the Hollywood imagery, the tired old metaphors. They just aren’t funny anymore. […]

Nature and environment boxed set

Anthea Simmons

We are lucky enough to have some excellent writers covering environmental issues. We thought you might appreciate having this selection to dip into, in case you missed any of the articles first time round. Maybe you would like to add a piece of your own? Do you work in conservation? Are you a wildlife fan? […]

Will we really be protecting 30 per cent of the land?

Mick Fletcher

My ears pricked up when I heard that the Prime Minister had committed to “protect 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030”. The pledge, made at a UN summit on biodiversity, sounds both ambitious and a welcome response to the environmental challenges facing the planet. With Johnson, however, the disappointment is usually in […]

The sinking Scillies

Anna Richards

The shallow waters around the Isles of Scilly are peppered with the hulls of the boats that have met their demise on shallow rock reefs. With sea levels rising, the settlements on the islands are at risk of joining the sunken ships. What does climate change mean for the Isles of Scilly? It isn’t hard […]

Tears of a ghost

Chris Baker

The dead hedgehog was clearly the previous night’s roadkill. The body was fresh, judging from the staining on the asphalt. It had been hit ten or so feet away from where it had died, its last short, slow journey made, I imagine, in agony. The place where it died is now marked by a ghost. […]

The sea has set me free

Heidi Westbrook

For Heidi Westbrook, sea-swimming has brought joy, friendship and vital solace through the lockdown. For 20 years I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on a clifftop high above Newquay’s famous Towan beach. Over the years, the number of people enjoying the water has steadily grown. Once these were mainly year-round surfers and families in […]

Furore over food standards reaching fever pitch

Sadie Parker

On 22 September, the Lords inflicted a defeat on the government when it voted, in line with the government’s own manifesto pledge, for an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to uphold our food, animal welfare and environmental standards. What was the government doing voting against its own manifesto pledge in the first place? Government has […]

The soil depletion crisis – retired Devon organic dairy farmer spells out the hard truth.

Rory O'Connor

My current edition of ‘Grass and Forage Manager’, published by British Grassland Society, shows just how far many farmers have come in recognising their responsibilities to environmental matters over the last ten to fifteen years. Articles on livestock sustainability, growing herbal leys, locking in carbon with grassland and grassland management effects on earthworm communities are […]

Community project focus: Nature Connects

Alice Wall

Editor: We asked charities and community interest companies who share our values to tell us about their work. We do not edit their words. Nature Connects is a Community Interest Company (CIC) offering Nature connection and adult forest school for health and well-being in Cornwall. Alice Wall and Sarah Witts, its founders, made the decision […]

Land of bronchoscope and lorry

Sadie Parker

Imagine the surprise in Devon, Dorset and Somerset when people awoke to discover that Robert Jenrick — he of regeneration-funds-for-votes and cash-for-planning-favour infamy — has initiated a massive land-grab of their counties. Wielding a Henry VIII clause, the millennial Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HC&LG) has drawn up Statutory Instrument 2020 […]

New photo competition (and an apology for last time!)

Anthea Simmons

Doh. It was a good idea, but we set an an impossible subject. You were all too kind (ironically, given the subject was ‘kindness’!) to point this out, but zero entries said it all. Sorry. Let’s try again. The theme this time is ‘sky’. After all, we need something to look up to right now, […]

A walk on the edge – along the Mendip scarp by Westbury Beacon

Mick Fletcher

There are many good walks in the Mendips, but popular sites on top of the plateau can get a little crowded at peak times. I prefer a walk that starts from one of the spring line villages that surround the upland – more challenging, but a more varied terrain, and a walk where the landscape […]

Animal welfare – another of this government’s sacrificial lambs?

Danny Chambers

To the huge concern of vets and farmers, the UK government seems to be preparing to sacrifice our high animal welfare standards in order to obtain a trade deal with Donald Trump. Worryingly, this also threatens our ability to combat deadly disease in humans, writes Cornwall-based vet Danny Chambers. With the end of the transition […]

Strapped-for-cash councils unable to enforce chemical safety rules.

Emma Rose

Councils are unable to enforce rules on chemical safety as new research shows one in four products tested – including children’s toys – contain dangerous levels of hazardous chemicals New research published on 17 August by Unchecked UK shows that local authorities are struggling to keep up with booming sales of counterfeit goods containing illegal […]

Mining the motherlode

Matt Valler

The lines of influence emanating from a Cornish garden can show us much about the impact of globalisation and the physical threads that connect our world, writes Matt Valler. Back in March, in the final days before social distancing rules were enforced, I was sitting in a café in the heart of Cornwall’s historic mining […]

Somerset’s ambitious plan: carbon net zero by 2030

Oliver Patrick

The UK is committed to being carbon net zero by 2050; however, Somerset’s councils have declared they will work towards the same target 20 years earlier. So what is the scale of the challenge in Somerset and what part can we play, as a community, in reaching this ambitious goal? In 2019 all five of […]

Is society broken? And if it is, are we too late to fix it?

Bev Haigh-Jones

Residents in some Cornish seaside towns have said they are too scared to go food shopping because of visitors cramming narrow streets and ignoring social distancing. This lack of consideration reflects deeper social and political problems, argues Bev Haigh-Jones. There’s no doubt 2020 will be one of the strangest years most of us have experienced. […]