6 Village Voice May 2019
Country Living with Robert Parker
Bird control move a shock
QUITE a shock hit farming at the end of April with Natural England’s decision to revoke the general licence to control several bird species. This change follows a legal challenge by a group called Wild Justice led by TV star Chris Packham. Before this action anyone could shoot or otherwise kill any species of bird that was causing harm to farm crops and animals. Examples would be carrion crows, jackdaws, wood pigeon, Canada geese and magpies – all of which now can only be controlled if you apply for a licence from Defra if you could prove that all other methods had failed. This puts another burden on farmers which they could/must surely do without. As an example, our own farm has had massive trouble all this year with wood pigeons eating our oilseed rape crops. The crops were some of the best we had established last autumn until the turn of the year when pigeons started their attack. We have the scenario of half fields grazed to soil and half left alone and I’m not sure if the damaged areas will recover. The pigeon population numbers in millions and has trebled in the last 20 years, maybe because we have provided them with a vast larder.
This problem and the withdrawal of a few very effective chemicals used to prevent plant diseases is making the growing of rapeseed a very risky crop and many farmers are calling it a day. Does this matter, you may say? Why not let us import more rapeseed oil from anywhere in the world? And, of course, this will accelerate the destruction of rainforest in the tropics to grow more palm oil. At least our native crops are fully sustainable and well controlled environmentally. There are also a few birds which are very dangerous to songbirds, and at the top of this list is the magpie. No doubt a beautiful bird but a truly evil and cunning one that at this season of the year hunts down smaller birds’ nests to steal and eat the eggs and small chicks. They are truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. n Swallows arrived here on the sixth of April, exactly the same date as last year. I was more excited last week to see dozens of house martins in our yard looking to collect mud from some of the puddles. More than 40 years ago we had a few nest in the castellated bricks under the eves of a barn but have had none since. Could we be having them again after all this time?
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l CARPETS of bluebells are one of the highlights of Spring … and our photographer Tina Baker captured these beauties at Calke Abbey, in Ticknall. The bluebell display in Serpentine Wood at the National Trust property is one of the finest places to see these flowers in the area, and regularly draws lots of visitors to admire this lovely, natural sight.
Tennis courts bid on hold
AN APPLICATION to create three new courts for Melbourne’s thriving tennis club has been deferred, so that further investigations on how to improve car parking at the sports park can be made. Proposals to add three artificial courts at the sports park were put before South Derbyshire District Council’s Planning Committee at its latest meeting on April 16. Officers had recommended they should be allowed to go ahead, but councillors decided to defer the matter so that car parking at the site could be re-considered – after the meeting heard how the current situation meant cars were sometimes being parked dangerously on local roads, for lack of space. Melbourne Sporting Partnership applied to create the new tennis courts on the site, saying these were not intended to accommodate increased numbers, but would offer a better surface for existing members, would avoid overcrowding in juniors, school and adult coaching sessions and reduce court waiting times for players. A design and access statement accompanying the application said: “The surface would be ‘synthetic grass’ on a sand blinding, porous macadam subbase. This is proven to be a better surface for both juniors (truer bounce and faster surface) but more importantly does not cause as much trauma to the joints. “It will actually allow some of our existing players suffering from conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism etc. to enjoy more playing time.” But the scheme also attracted objection letters from four neighbours, who said they felt the new courts were too near properties, and would bring increased noise to already “unacceptable” levels. The need for the new courts was also questioned, with one resident speaking at the meeting
saying the current ones were never full. Tony Burdett, from the district council’s planning department, said at the meeting: “We are not saying there won’t be any impact on any neighbours – there could well be – but we have to balance up the benefits of the sports facilities against what environmental harm they will cause …” Later on, he also said that local residents were being encouraged to walk to the sports park rather than use their car. Planning committee member Cllr Martyn Ford said: “A refusal of this application might prompt them to come forward with alternatives for car parking … we have a duty of care. We have heard that people have to walk along the road.” The sporting partnership said Melbourne could be home to the largest squad of junior tennis players in the county by 2020 if all existing infants and juniors stayed at their current level. They also said all courts were full at peak times. Responding to the deferral, Steve Hollingsworth, chair of Melbourne Sporting Partnership, said: “Although the planning officer made a recommendation for the granting of permission for the tennis courts, the planning committee decided to defer the decision pending consideration of car parking at the MSP. The MSP will review the implications of the deferral and make further representations and submissions for further consideration.” m The fact that three Lombardy poplar trees have been felled at the sports park was also raised at the planning meeting. As per an agreement several years ago, the MSP has planted an oak tree at the site to replace 11 poplars at the former recreation ground, to commemorate those who died in the war.
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