Here in the UK, from where I write, we are very used to the scourge of wind farms.
But, even with the knowledge of just how much environmental damage they have done, and are doing, over here, it is still a shock to hear of a sinister plan to industrialise one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and remote parts of Europe, the Pindos mountains in Northern Greece.
Locals there are dejected about the plan to populate their beloved, unspoiled mountain range with huge wind turbines, threatening a fragile and immensely diverse ecosystem in the process.
In an open letter to the Greek government published in the Parapolitics newspaper, a group of organisations and citizens opposed to the development say "The two large wind turbine installations are to be built on the unspoiled peaks of Agrafa [in the Pindos mountain range] at the highest altitude for wind turbines anywhere in the world, 1600 to 2000 meters, in a clean and protected area, which will have incalculable negative consequences.......this first series of wind turbines will cover 80% of all ridges from Evritania to Argithea..."
The area is sparsely populated and has little infrastructure, and so a huge cause for concern is that major roads will have to be built to transport the materials for the industrial development together with the construction of high voltage overhead electricity lines to feed the turbines - these will cut swathes through pine forests and untouched alpine meadows.
The desperately worried citizens point out that this will have a catastrophic effect on the rare flora and fauna of the area.
Pelicans and spoonbills are amongst the birds that live here in large colonies while mammals include wolves, jackals and bears.
All are likely to be threatened by the installation of the wind farms affecting their habitat.
The locals, whose desire is to promote eco-tourism alongside traditional farming, are horrified at the plans to develop their treasured countryside, they are calling it "criminal destruction driven by a thirst for investment".
Those of us in the UK, who comprehend the damage that wind farms have brought to our shores, stand firm with the people of the Agrafa region and we understand their anger and frustration.
We hope they win their battle.
Destroying wildlife and landscape in the name of 'green' energy is a disgrace and will be viewed with shame by future generations.
Shocking destruction of ancient hedgerows and trees has been discovered in a remote and beautiful part of North Wales.
The appalling devastation was found by keen walker Karen Roden last week as she revisited one of her favorite parts of the area, the Berwyns, a quiet and unspoilt range of upland moors and hills.
Describing the heartbreaking scene she encountered as she walked along a historic drovers' path leading up into the hills, a dismayed Karen said "The familiar beautiful hedgerow and mature trees had been completely cut down to the ground, leaving the wild bluebells and primroses exposed and forlorn."
Yet More Damage Found Nearby...
Similar damage has been found at nearby Rhos y Maerdy where, as the photographs show, yet more thriving trees and hedgerows have been hacked down, leaving a sterile fence in their place. This precious habitat would have supported a variety of wildlife, including many species of birds, wild flowers, perhaps elusive animals such as the Polecat and countless varieties of insects.
As Karen sadly points out "This hedgerow should have been covered with blossom now. In the autumn it was an oasis for the birds as there were berries bursting from every branch. All gone now."
'Protected' Area Of Conservation
Such habitat is entirely irreplaceable, a delicate and unique ecosystem wrecked.
It is especially outrageous that this could have happened in an area most of which is officially 'protected'.
The rugged and little known Berwyn range of hills and moors are a designated 'Special Area Of Conservation' and are home to a wide range of rare and endangered species, in particular several threatened species of birds such as the Peregrine Falcon and Hen Harrier as well as Owls, Plovers and Buzzards. Much of the area is also a National Nature Reserve.
Wanton Wrecking Of Our Countryside
It is believed that farmers were responsible for removing the trees and hedges though their reasons for doing so are unclear. What is certain is that the terrible extent of their reckless destruction demands answers. We must not allow this kind of vandalism, of a type that is all too common in our towns and cities, to spread to the countryside, the last refuge for our most precious flora and fauna.
When it's gone it's gone.
If those who carried out this disgraceful act thought that it would go unnoticed then they were mistaken. But, however angry we might be over this, the fact is that these ancient hedgerows are lost and can never be replaced. This particular deed might be done but we cannot let wanton wrecking of our countryside continue, nor let it happen in our name and that is why we must speak out, individually and collectively, and object.
If we don't, then as Karen points out "We're going to end up with so few natural habitats that our children and grandchildren will not see the range of species we grew up with - except in a zoo."
How dreadful- and shameful - would that be......?
Reports from St Andrews in Scotland suggest that two gulls, protected by law due to their endangered status, may have been killed by a pest control company with the permission of Scottish Natural Heritage, the same organisation that recently caused outrage when they proposed a cull of hundreds of ravens, much to the alarm of conservationists and the general public.
According to St Andrews University student newspaper The Saint, the gulls had taken up residence close to the bicycle stands near the university library and were a familiar sight to those using the library - but complaints were received from a few people who claimed to have been 'attacked' by the birds.
Regular readers will know that I question accounts of gull attacks and consider that, more often than not, they are a result of human misunderstanding and intolerance of these incredible birds.
So anyway, after the university had apparently exhausted all other methods of persuading the gulls to leave, Scottish Natural Heritage gave the go ahead to proceed with the gulls' removal due to the dramatic (some might say over-dramatic) nature of the reported incidents.
Though it has not been confirmed, it is believed that the gulls were in fact exterminated by a pest control company acting under authority from SNH.
As a protected species, gulls can only be culled in exceptional circumstances where there is "a significant risk to public health or safety".
Personally I doubt very much that the two gulls at St Andrews posed such a risk and I imagine that their (assumed) demise is a result of the usual hysteria that the presence of these wonderfully resourceful birds often provokes from overly sensitive humans and those ignorant of the birds' natural behaviour.
Scottish Natural Heritage claim that part of their mission is to promote and care for the country's wildlife but frankly if they are intent on killing it then there won't be quite as much wildlife left in Scotland for them to 'care for'......
"While there are many places in cloud cuckoo land eminently suitable for the construction of wind farms, we who inhabit the real world must not allow the fanciful whims of the obsessed to take hold in our ever diminishing countryside."
There was dismay from many locals this week as giant turbine parts for the construction of a mammoth wind farm ploughed through the peaceful Welsh countryside towards Brenig, a serene part of Denbighshire.
The development has meant widening country roads and pouring concrete into the Welsh hillsides to advance what is laughingly called 'green' energy.
Is this really progress?
Chinese developer CGNEE is responsible for this catastrophe, which will be an industrial eyesore in the hitherto pristine Denbighshire landscape.
As one dejected local commented " [they are] destroying the look of our beautiful countryside all in the name of money making..."
As a regular visitor to this most delightful part of the world, I know the area fairly well, and it is (or at least was) one of the quietest and most unspoilt parts of the country. It's possible here to experience absolute silence, apart from the occasional song of a skylark and the whisper of the breeze, and to look at seemingly unending vistas of moor and hill, as far as the coast and beyond.
A coast which incidentally is now blighted by some of the largest wind turbines in the world; from here they are mercifully distant though still entirely menacing.
The industrial development at Brenig is just one of many wind farms proposed for Wales. Earlier this year the Welsh assembly stubbornly ignored pleas from locals to halt the construction of yet another wind farm on the Denbighshire Moors, a worrying sign that the government is intent on developing the Welsh countryside in their frenzied pursuit of an environmental delusion. Ugly, and quite terrible, wanton desecration in the name of money grabbing, wind farms are an insane folly. But it's an insanity that is defacing our countryside and annihilating our wildlife.
Mesmerised by the spin put out by the developers and energy companies, some people are beguiled into supporting the fantasy. But a more informed - and despondent - Denbighshire resident this week said of the scheme "The Brenig area looks like a bomb site nowadays, disgraceful greed."
While there are many places in cloud cuckoo land eminently suitable for the construction of wind farms, we who inhabit the real world must not allow the fanciful whims of the obsessed to take hold in our ever diminishing countryside.
A big bouquet now for the councils of Poole and Bournemouth here in the UK, who have stated that they will not impose a ban on the feeding of gulls, thereby flying in the face of new regulations that were implemented by West Dorset district council last week.
Spokespeople for the two coastal towns said that they have ‘no plans to ban people from feeding gulls’ in spite of new byelaws which came into force in other areas of Dorset.
It seems that our campaign to allow people the freedom to feed wild birds, without fear of being fined, is making waves especially around the coast where an irrational intolerance towards gulls has been spreading in recent years.
This news is very encouraging and should send a message to other councils that feeding birds is not a crime and should not be punished.
Two other Dorset resorts, Lyme Regis and West Bay will be rolling out the ban which is likely to see innocent people being fined £100 for their compassion towards wildlife. Perhaps we should boycott these two small-minded places and instead head for the much more tolerant and friendly towns of Bournemouth and Poole both of which should be commended for their level-headed and rational response to the matter. Though signs are present in parts of Bournemouth advising people to refrain from feeding gulls where not appropriate, their measured approach does not include handing out fines and turning this pleasurable pastime into a crime.
A timely reminder to those living in areas where silly bans are being rolled out – it is NOT against the law to feed wild birds.
Although councils have the power to implement local byelaws for offences such as 'anti social behaviour', any fine received that is considered unfair can be challenged - please see my Feed The Birds section for more information.
Thanks so much to everyone who voted in my poll!
There was a really big response to the question: Do you think animals have souls?
The results are in and might surprise you - because a whopping 88% of respondents said "yes", confirming that there is a widespread belief in an afterlife for animals (at least amongst my discerning readers anyway!)
While I entirely respect those 7% who voted "no" (there were 5% who clicked "undecided), I do see this result as a good sign that generally people do hold animals in high regard. Even those who voted "no" often pointed out that an animal does not need to possess a soul in order to be treated with kindness.
All in all, if this interesting poll proves anything, it is that a large majority of readers share a compassion for animals, which can only be a good thing. I think it is clear that if someone believes in the existence of an animal soul then they are less likely to treat any animal with cruelty.
One particularly interesting fact that came from the poll is that 100% of the respondents under the age of 25 voted "yes", which surprised me. It seems that even though these young people have grown up in an age of technology and heavy industry, where they might have become very detached from the natural world, they do still believe in the existence of a soul. I think that is very encouraging indeed.
Thanks again to all who took part.
Here's a summary of the results:-
"Do You Think Animals Have Souls"?
(100% of ages under 25)
(91% of ages 25 to 40)
(77% of ages 41 to 65)
(88% of ages 65 to 85)
(0% of ages under 25)
(8% of ages 25 to 40)
(6% of ages 41 to 65)
(11% of ages 65 to 85)
With all the concerns many of us share about the welfare of animals in this people-dominated world, I thought it might be interesting to ask readers whether they believe that animals possess a 'soul'.
I know that I can say with some confidence, having grown up with a deep respect for the natural world, that I believe they do.
Hunting, culling, intensive farming and other forms of animal cruelty are the result of some of us convincing ourselves that animals are soulless creatures and incapable of experiencing suffering in the same way that humans surely would in the same situations. This is clearly wrong thinking, isn't it?
While some religions teach that animals do possess a soul, many assert that humans are the only beings whose soul is eternal. That is to say that, while animals might have a soul whilst alive, an animal soul does not carry on in some form after death.
No heaven for animals? It's a suggestion that doesn't sit comfortably with me.
Personally I challenge the idea that mankind is in some way superior to other animals. Certainly we have made more of an impact on the planet than have other creatures, though I doubt that the problematic result of human involvement in this world entitles us to the label of superiority, which by definition implies 'better quality'.
With many people of faith - as well as those without religious beliefs - questioning our appalling treatment of animals, I would like to ask your opinion by way of a simple two click poll.
Please feel very free to comment too!
When all the results are in, I'll share them with you.
It's come to my attention that some revolting people are using social media to advocate extreme cruelty to birds. In response to reports that yet more local councils are planning to impose fines on innocent people who feed gulls and pigeons, these twisted individuals are suggesting horrific ways to kill the birds - and urging others to follow suit.
Quote: "Put some bicarbonate of soda in bread and watch the buggers explode"
While local councils insist on pursuing their misguided plans to 'criminalise' the feeding of wild birds, disgusting individuals are jumping on the bandwagon and actively promoting blatant and outrageous animal cruelty. It's truly worrying that these repugnant people are able to spread their nasty, unlawful ideas so freely.
As you can see by the screen shots, the shocking suggestions include feeding gulls bread laced with bicarbonate of soda which the perpetrators say will make the birds 'explode'.
One nasty individual called Gary boasts “Put some bicarbonate of soda in bread and watch the buggers explode - [it] works, have seen it myself!”
Others recommend shooting them (which is entirely against the law of course) : "shoot them - problem solved" says 'Wayne.P' on Facebook.
A Hate Filled Desire To Kill
Fuelled by many on social media who vocally and aggressively support a cull, or even more obnoxious methods of 'controlling' birds, there seems to be a growing hate-filled desire to eradicate some of our most cherished species of wildlife.
It is essential to remind people that gulls are protected and endangered. Anybody who advocates killing them is potentially committing a serious crime.
Please Continue To Feed Wild Birds - It Is NOT Against The Law
It's worth repeating that it is NOT against the law to feed wild birds and therefore people should feel entirely free to do so without fear of prosecution.
Some local bye-laws mean that councils can attempt to impose penalties for 'anti-social behaviour' if it is deemed that feeding the birds has somehow breached that rule but such fines should always be challenged.
My petition to stop councils imposing fines on innocent people who feed wild birds can be found here: CLICK HERE
Please sign and share!
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