Protecting Devon from Development

I haven’t written anything in far too long… I have a backlog of posts to finish writing and frankly I’m ashamed of myself.

Anyway.

This is a bit of a depressing post (but with a small hint of positivity and a big dollop of importance) I’m afraid so strap in and make a cup of tea. Let’s get cracking.

I recently returned home to Devon to spend Christmas with my family. But driving around some of my favourite local places (Dartmouth, Totnes and Dartington) highlighted the current mass of development of unaffordable houses around the areas. I hate this. Every time I’ve been home across the last 6 months, I return to see more trees cut down, more hedgerows out of action and more green land being prepared for vast new housing estates. I believe we need the right quality homes in the right locations at the right price points, genuinely affordable to young people and low income families, but after completing comprehensive research on the matter, it’s obvious that a majority of the development on local Devon greenfield sites is inappropriate; not priced affordably for local people.

The frustrating fact is that Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) annual State of Brownfield report shows that there is enough suitable brownfield land available in England for more than 1 million homes across over 18,000 sites. Yet developers choose the lush green sites because it’s cheaper.

As an environmentalist, I am seriously concerned about the threat of such development to wildlife and the lack of regulations surrounding this. The farmland I played in as a child (situated behind my grandmothers house in Totnes), has now been converted into luxury dwellings and during my walk around the new estate, I noticed that there is a considerable lack of greenery to support the biodiversity that once thrived on the land previous to the building.

I just don’t understand why it’s not a top priority for councils to make these estates (if we have to have them..) green! After all, we are currently in a mass extinction. I’m talking about planting up the areas in-between houses with insect friendly flowers, shrubs and trees. Using the small green triangles of land that separate areas of the estate to benefit nature and the environment. It would cost next to nothing (literally) and could be used to educate the new community on the importance of these spaces for the local wildlife. But no.. instead they’ll plant some tranquil looking, non-native species, grass that does bugger all for wildlife and will look shabby and bleak in a couple of years.

This all climaxed in my mind about a month ago, when I decided I had to do something about it. I’m sick of seeing precious greenspace developed for profit with no regard to the wildlife that inhabits there.

Subsequently, I contacted my local MP (and managed to keep my language grandma friendly!) to ask if they could lobby their fellow members of parliament to make a change and tighten the surrounding laws. After I received a pretty beat-around-the-bush reply (however I did appreciate the reply), I then decided to email the Minister of State for Housing, The Rt Hon. Esther McVey MP. I then proceeded to pester the local Councillor for Totnes, and the South Hams Council general enquiry service. Have I exhausted my efforts? Absol-bloody not. I’ve only just started.

Do I think that my emails will make any sort of difference at all? No. But it makes me feel a lot better sending them and feeling like I’m doing something about it. After all, they can’t concrete over the whole of Devon… Can they?!

For more information visit: https://www.cpredevon.org.uk/campaigns/right-homes-right-place/

Housebuilding comes at the expense of our natural habits!

I was very happy to have my voice heard with a topic I feel very passionate about. Housebuilding on Devon greenfield sites has become a serious issue (and I suspect not just in Devon) and threatens the local wildlife by drastically reducing important habitats. These new houses are erected in their thousands and are sold for a minimum of £250,000 with a majority being upwards of £400,000!! Not exactly helping the housing crises!

Could this be love? The Daily Nature Fix

Here we have The Bugula neritina (B.neritina) a tiny, weeny bryozoan. A non-native marine organism found in Salcombe (and many other places!!) This little bab is currently in his early stages, and therefore is being looked at under a strong microscope. He may not seem like much, but thanks to this little fella – my dissertation is moving along quite nicely (stay tuned for more details…)

Cold, wet and windy…

Soooo today I made the decision to embark on a 7 1/2 mile walk up on cold, wet and windy Dartmoor. We started at Princetown and followed the Victorian leat in a loop. Rather pleasent – even if I could ring-out the water from my socks and pants just 5 minutes into the trek…. Here’s a picture of me looking miserable – enjoy!…

The blues

Gorgeous ‘Blue Jellyfish’ Cyanea lamarckii found at Wembury beach Devon on Saturday at the National Trust and South Devon AONB family fun day! 

The close encounter

Welcome to the daily nature fix! I will be regularly posting pictures of wildlife that I have had a recent encounter with. To kick start this off; The most beautiful male sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus) came and landed on our bird table just a couple of days ago!!! I live in rural Devon, but I have never had such a close (literally less than a meter away from the lounge window!) encounter with this beautiful bird. You can tell it is a male from the orangey breast feathers. The females and young sparrow hawks tend to have darker, browny breast feathers. blog3

Let the Training… Commence!!

 

For my Kilimanjaro climb, I have been mainly training on Dartmoor National Park.. and yes.. yes there is an escaped lynx currently running around on Dartmoor.. moving on..

I’m so lucky to only live twenty minutes away from the moor and with its high tors, hills and regular cup of tea vans, it makes it the perfect place for getting fit and training for kilimanjaro. I have been regularly going for long walks, listening to ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder on repeat and pretending I’m a bond girl on the run *cough*…  I would recommend Dartmoor to anyone wishing to have a cheeky little adventure in the great outdoors, or for hippies who simply want to become ‘at one with nature’. Anyway.. Dartmoor is fantastic and thankfully never becomes too horrifically busy even in the summer holidays, rarely do you come across lobster red families, with too short pink shorts on. However, I can promise you a glimpse of ‘carpark picnic people!’

Some beautiful spots on Dartmoor I highly recommend:

  1. Widdecombe-on-the-moor – Gorgeous little village with beautiful moorland walks surrounding it (also the ‘Cafe on the Green’ has awesome hot chocolates, so you can replace the calories you lost on the walk..)
  2. Hound tor – near Manaton.
  3. Hay tor – Near Newton Abbot. Great tor for climbing!
  4. Warren House Inn – Fantastic pub for drinks. Set right in the middle of nowhere and with beautiful surroundings. Plenty of walks lead from this area, if you manage to leave the pub!

Enjoy the outdoors!

ToobysTravels x

Fundraising Through Music!

‘The Big Live Music Event, Totnes’ was my most recent fundraising event that I’ve organised – Don’t leave! I promise I’m not going to whittle on about how it went and be boring..

As an aspiring adventurer, my latest project is to climb nearly 6000m to the summit of mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania (the worlds tallest free-standing mountain!) in order to raise money and awareness for the Meningitis Research Foundation. My fundraising goal is £3000 and If I’m successful at raising this, then I will go ahead and ‘crack on’ with the climb.

Having a dad who is big in the music business; I decided to put on a fundraising gig. I managed to get a fantastic local venue (The Dartmouth Inn, Totnes), along with a band who I spotted at an open mic night at uni (The Busketeers. Check them out on Youtube). I also asked my dad to send out an email to all his musician contacts, asking them to come along and perform for charity. We had such an overwhelming, positive response from individual musicians and bands expressing their wish to come and perform, and we were so grateful for the support shown. Incredible musicians such as ‘Maggie Reeday’ and ‘Chris Gibbons’ kindly gave up their evenings to come along and perform for us, which was just totally fantastic! A local business kindly offered to sponsor the event too, for which I was also grateful.

The evening was a total success, raising over £500 towards my overall £3000 fundraising goal. Here are some pictures from the event.

Huge thanks to everyone who came along and supported ‘The BIG Live Music Event, Totnes’.

All the best,

Eve (ToobysTravels)