Viewpoint: Biodiversity 'in severe decline'

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Dark skies and weeds should be welcomed

Wild Maidenhead has commented on the National Highways and Transport Survey.

We have to direct our comments to RBWM rather than to a national body. They are as follows:

Biodiversity in RBWM, as throughout England, is currently in severe decline.

The RBWM Corporate Plan and the Environment and Climate Strategy require the council to act to increase biodiversity, including on road side verges.

Verges and infrastructure along footpaths, cycle ways, roadways and railways make an important contribution to biodiversity.

However, sadly, the survey doesn’t allow residents to state their satisfaction with the amount of wildlife they see on their journeys through the borough.

Time outside in nature is an important contributor to human well-being.

There are also outdated references to ‘weed killing’.

At a time when the UK has lost 97 per cent of its wildflower meadows, wildflowers should not be referred to as an inconvenience.

We appreciate RBWM is managing some road verges for wildlife, but this is only a tiny portion of what is needed.

Dark skies are important for wildlife and, in many places, people prefer to see the stars rather than the glow of street lights.

The survey doesn’t allow residents to express that view.

There should also be consistency with the Borough Local Plan which says, at Policy EP3, that development proposals should avoid generating artificial light pollution where possible, in particular to avoid detrimental impacts on biodiversity, and reduce light spill into river and other wildlife corridors.

The survey leads the responder into a ‘more is better’ approach to street lighting, ‘weed killing’ and cutting back trees and hedges, which is contrary to the Corporate Plan commitment to increase biodiversity.

If the survey is repeated, questions should be rephrased to allow the many responders who get a benefit from seeing the wildflowers, hedgerows and trees, and the creatures who live in them, to express that view.


1. Analysis of the survey responses on street lighting, ‘weed killing’ and cutting back trees and hedges should acknowledge that the responders have been led into ‘more is better’ responses, and not given any opportunity to say that they would prefer less of these things.

2. Any proposals for new street lighting should seek the advice of the borough ecologist on how to minimise the effects on wildlife.

3. Management of roadside verges for wildlife should be extended to all roadside verges where important safety considerations make it possible.

4. The survey should be updated to reflect modern attitudes to wildlife and allow residents to say, if they wish to, that they prefer less lighting, less verge-mowing, less herbicide use, less hedgerow cutting and more wildlife. References to ‘weed killing’ should be changed to reflect the importance of wildflowers to biodiversity and human well-being; references to street lighting should recognise the value of dark skies, especially in rural areas; references to hedgerows and trees should include the benefit to well-being people get from seeing them as well as the need to cut them back in some places.

5. The biodiversity of our footpaths and cycle ways should be used in RBWM communications to promote active travel.

We would be grateful for specific responses from RBWM to our five recommendations.


Why is responding to consultation so hard?

I read with interest your recent article announcing the start of consultation on our council’s key planning document for South West Maidenhead.

I have since taken the time to attempt to respond but I have never before come across such an un-user-friendly documentation.

Comments can’t be made without referring to one of the thousands of paragraphs in hundreds of pages across several documents.

It is shameful and appears to be a ploy to ensure no one comments on the consultation.

This consultation should be cancelled immediately until easy-to-use documents are provided and the consultation is well publicised by sending a simple form to every household in the borough.

That would be a proper consultation.

I’d also like to point out that there is no such place as South West Maidenhead.

This was made up by the council leadership to try to cover up the fact that this development will destroy hundreds of acres of our green belt, including thousands of trees on the publicly owned land of Maidenhead Golf Course.


Pinkneys Green

Some planes are flying too low and off course

The plan is that outbound flights from Heathrow should fly to the north of Windsor along the Noise Preference Route (NPR).

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Windsorians are extremely familiar with the route that inbounds and outbounds take.

We see many thousands of them.

So, when we see a plane that is in ‘the wrong place’, we know that something is going wrong.

Being underneath – looking up at the belly of a plane – it just reawakens the worst fears versus the risks of living close to Heathrow.

This last week, one departure, totally off course, came across Windsor at 1,033ft. It should have been at some 4,000ft – or more.

The noise was huge – it alerts everyone.

Instead of climbing, it actually descended –- to 788 ft – whilst still over Windsor.

It then managed to level off and started to climb and went on its way.

The passengers may not have been aware of this sequence.

For those below, both residents and tourists, was there a huge sigh of relief when it flew on and away?

This is the issue with these low, off- course overflights.

We know that something is going wrong.

All we can do is look upward and hope.

It’s not just us.

Amongst the 50 low overflights since January, one overflew, directly overhead of the state apartments of the castle. Again, very low at 2,700ft.

There is a ‘no fly zone’ around the castle.

But I am told that it does not apply to Heathrow departures.

There are also very late departures, even past midnight.

Amongst the 50 ‘incidents’ since January, one was at 24 minutes past midnight.

Apart from overflights raising concerns for our safety, we are also not allowed to sleep?

When it comes to sending out a plane past midnight, it is clearly a deliberate decision.

But with the low overflights – are they caused by pilots not following the departure regulations?

Some may be caused by weather conditions. For that circumstance, the departure could be delayed until the weather issue passes.

All we know, down below, is that something is ‘going wrong’ and all we can do is hope.

Is this a satisfactory state of affairs?



Lack of coverage for damning judgement

As we sweltered in deadly temperatures and anticipate worse, the High Court has declared that the government’s Net Zero Strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 must be rewritten.

This decisive judgement on a case brought by Friends of the Earth and others, delivered as our wannabe Prime Ministers quibbled over whether they would even accept the 2050 target, says that the current ‘strategy’ is too vague to satisfy the court that the target will be met and that the Secretary of State approved the policy when he did not have the relevant information. The whole plan must be rewritten no later than the end of next March.

Surprisingly this damning judgment has received little publicity.

The international Paris agreement of 2015 is a legally binding treaty designed to keep the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.

We already have sizzling heat with an increase of about 1.2 degrees. If action continues to be inadequate to achieve the target, what horrors await the planet?

Yet we have a supposed government plan which is no more than woolly promises, and which currently involves more burning of oil, gas and even coal.

At the local level, the Royal Borough has no cause for complacency, with 2050 as the target for net zero emissions, and similarly vague plans to achieve this.

When will our politicians face reality, and when will the electorate start to elect politicians who will do so? At present the future looks terrifying.



East Berkshire Green Party

Both candidates are great but Rishi is best

We have two great candidates for the leadership of my Party – and for Prime Minister – and I have worked with both in Government and attended a recent hustings.

I will be voting for Rishi Sunak, partly because MPs who have seen both from close up believe he is the best candidate, but also because I think he is best able to bring the party and the country together after a bruising few months.


Former Conservative Chief Whip

Shame on our MP for not applauding Boris

Our erstwhile PM and current MP did not find it necessary or mannerly to applaud Boris Johnson after his final and glorious PMQs.

This despite his achievements in extricating her from the leadership and a stalemated Parliament, resolving her failure over Brexit and bringing a fresh climate to the political scene with a substantial majority.


In passing, may I applaud Dr DR Cooper for his tenacity and accuracy in defending the various attacks on Brexit and the will of the people.

He is clearly sufficiently capable but has an ally here should he ever need one.


Jobs Lane

Cookham Dean

Will the Tories replace a liar with a hypocrite?

Richard Poad and Bruce Adams made excellent contributions to Viewpoint last week concerning the dearth of talent in the Conservative party leadership election.

Now just two candidates remain, and the apparent favourite is Liz Truss.

Having seen the departure of a serial liar, it seems the electorate faces having a hypocrite in his stead.

She campaigned hard to remain in 2016, warning ‘how difficult it would become to do business’ were the UK to leave the EU.

How true that prediction was!

She went on about having to ‘fill in 50 boxes on a form every time we wanted to export something’.

In order to achieve her ambition though, she has to sing the Brexiteer song because 79 per cent of Conservative party members voted leave, and it’s this cosseted cohort who decides which of these underwhelming prospects takes over the mantle of slow destroyer of the country which this Government has been working on for the last dozen years.

It’s such an irony that Iron Lizzie wants to deliver net zero on carbon emissions ‘in a way that doesn’t harm people and businesses’ since international net zero appears the only hope of preventing potentially terminal harm to humanity and she has been very happy to trash business to the tune of billions a year by supporting this ruinous and divisive Brexit.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates an annual loss of £80,000,000,000. Eighty billion pounds burned through every year for some outdated imperialist fantasy. What a traitorous shower this Government is.


Sutton Road


Fears of closer EU-UK union were unfounded

At the European Council on February 18-19, 2016, it was agreed that ‘ever closer union shall not apply to the United Kingdom’.

Dr Cooper mentioned ‘ever closer union’ again on July 14. It is hardly ‘inexorable’ if all 28 national leaders agreed that it wouldn't apply to the UK.

Dr Cooper seems to be unable to remember the replies he has been given.

Three years ago, on July 25, 2019, Dr Cooper wrote the same thing.

I replied to say that the EU is only to do the things that can only be best done together, and no more than ‘is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties’.

Please see article 5 of the Treaty on European Union.

Everything else, such as running defence, schools, hospitals, benefits, planning permissions, elections, direct taxes like income tax, citizenship, local transport, television and post, is the job of each country. In particular, national security is the job of each country.

The European Commission can only make a proposal in a policy area covered by the treaties that have been signed by national leaders and approved by their parliaments or by referendum.

If it is not covered, then the Commission cannot make a proposal in that area.

This is enforced by national parliaments.

If a proposal goes beyond what is allowed, then national parliaments can object.

The EU’s lower and upper court can strike down EU law as unlawful because of cases brought by individual citizens, other organisations or governments.


Member, European Movement UK

Theresa May to blame for terms of protocol

Once again we have Theresa May holding forth about the failures and wrongdoings of others without admitting her own culpability (Advertiser, July 14, page 8, ‘MP says trust must be earned’.)

As I pointed out in a previous letter, we only got lumbered with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister because she fell down on the job of Brexit (Viewpoint, June 30).

Not least by losing her majority through an unnecessary general election allegedly held at the urging of the President of the EU Commission, (The Observer, June 11 2017, “Drop hard Brexit plans’, leading Tory and Labour MPs tell May”.)

As for the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, these are just parts of what another Tory MP, Sir William Cash, had to say during a recent debate:

“... the Northern Ireland protocol had its origins in her administration ... The pass was sold during the previous administration.

“I have heard the condemnations from the former Prime Minister, which I find to be completely unjustified in the circumstances.”

The Irish government and the EU professed concern about what goods might enter the EU Single Market across the Irish land border.

The obvious answer was for the UK to introduce export controls, as repeatedly suggested via these pages and directly over four years (Viewpoint, February 27 2018, “Easy solution to EU border conundrum”.)

Instead Mrs May agreed to the displacement activity of checking imports into the UK rather than exports to the Irish Republic.

And it was upon that foundation laid by his predecessor that Boris Johnson created his own disastrous version of her protocol.


Belmont Park Avenue


Thanks to those who helped me when I fell

May I, via your newspaper, thank the people who assisted me when I fell on the pavement in north Maidenhead on Saturday, July 9.

I would especially like to thank the lady who is a retired nurse, her daughter, a man and another man whose name was Rory.

I apologise to the others for not remembering your names, but I was not myself at the time.

I would like to thank as well the other people who came out of a shop and the other who stopped their cars to ask if they could help or asked if there was anything they could do?

Following a visit to the Minor Injury Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital I have a bruised foot which, at the time, was not apparent.

I would to thank you for all for assistance you gave me at the scene and to Rory who drove me back to Maidenhead Station.



Filled with pride for our roaring Lionesses

The day has now arrived

Our Lionesses soon to roar

This pride’s together with moves so clever

Let’s score one, then more

From our keeper though to striker

We have become a force

In each game, the opponents tamed

We’re now set to go the course

Our gaffer on the bench

Driving England on

Her split decisions with class and vision

We’re set to finish strong

Our fans supporting in their droves

To cheer on our winning team

With miles and miles of happy smiles

Like a Lioness that’s got the cream

Your country is behind you

Go out and do us proud

You’re one great team, now live the dream

Whilst we all sing out loud




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