A blog on the recent meeting between HAPPI and Harrogate and District MP Andrew Jones regarding local wildlife and building developments, animal-free agriculture and greener transport.
Happi were recently delighted to be selected for a grant from the Vegan Society to help us with the maintenance of the website and organise other events (meetups, information handouts etc) with a vegan ethic. One of the targets on our list of grant-related activities was to meet with local MP Andrew Jones to discuss several issues. One of our members suggested we bring up the recent decimation of hedgegrows, home to a myriad of wildlife, on Penny Pot Lane for the new housing development, which we have now had a response about from Mr Jones, who seemed concerned about this issue during our meeting.
Mr Jones has now made enquiries about the decimation of the hedgegrows and he has been informed that there is an ongoing investigation and that most likely there will be a prosecution for the damage. Hopefully this will be the case and it will set a precedent for others, given that there are so many new developments springing up in the district. Mr Jones is going to keep me informed about the prosecution, so I will keep everyone posted!
We also spoke about planners making developments more wildlife friendly in general, such as hedgehog links between gardens. Mr Jones sent me a document entitled Natural Environment, which has a section on protecting the natural environment where planning is to take place. It is clear upon reading this policy provided by Harrogate Planning Office that the Penny Pot lane development, and most likely the majority of those others taking place in the area, do not adhere to these requirements and I hope that this is now fully on the radar of Mr Jones, the Council and the Planning Office.
Other topics that we discussed during our meeting, which I am still waiting to hear back from Mr Jones on, were greener transport, peatland management and the link to grouse and pheasant shooting and the Vegan Society document Growing Green, which discusses the introduction and benefits of animal-free agriculture in farming districts. Mr Jones said that he would read through the latter and I am awaiting his comments. I was happy to hear that Harrogate’s public transport system will be getting greener in the near future as it is to the be first town in the country to have buses run entirely on electricity. Mr Jones informed me that by early 2018 all buses will be converted to run off a special grid that charges them when they pull into the bus station. Whilst this will obviously be a lot less pollutive I assume that in order to charge the buses electricity from the national grid will be required.
In response to the concerns I raised about local grouse and pheasant shooting businesses, both in terms of peatland management and cruelty to wildlife and illegal hunting of endangered wildlife, Mr Jones told me that his stance is not against shooting because he believes it to be an important part of the local economy, however he is very concerned about the illegal killing of wildlife by shoot gamekeepers. This and the topic of fracking (although we did not discuss this during the meeting) are two areas where Mr Jones and I will have to agree to disagree, for my beliefs (which many share I am happy to admit, even if sadly not enough amongst the ‘powers that be’) are that we cannot continue to prioritise the local economy over protecting the planet and her creatures, and one day she will bite back and we will experience this first hand.
For any further enquiries or to see a copy of the planning document mentioned please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.