I think that the reason I've been speaking out against HS2, wind farms and similarly calamitous projects is because I don't want to look back in years to come having sat there, said nothing and thereby given my consent to the wholesale destruction of our countryside. Regret is a bitter pill and as Albert Einstein said “If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity.”
The brave people who have been camping out in the path of the HS2 developers are an example to us all of positive environmental action and we owe them a debt of gratitude whether or not they succeed in delaying or halting work on the route.
My own contribution is not hands on but, through writing about the current disregard for our ever shrinking countryside, I hope to at least reach a few people who may not have hitherto realised the extent of the destruction these schemes are threatening to wreak in our landscape.
I'm in my fifties now and even in my lifetime I have seen a dramatic decline in the nature around me that has been very noticeable and shocking.
In my youth I remember vast flocks of lapwings, starlings and greenfinches. Even just outside suburban Liverpool where we then lived, I recall encounters with partridge and rabbits on a daily basis and there were trees, fully grown majestic old trees, before the days when councils began to cut them back within an inch of their lives, and importantly a reverence for such trees and nature at large, something that no longer seems to exist in the wider population.
I think that's the problem. A majority of people appear to have lost a connection with nature and no longer appreciate that our own existence depends on maintaining a delicate balance between us and the rest of the world around us.
For me anyway, the culling of badgers, the hunting of foxes and the careless wrecking of habitat for creatures such as the hedgehog are all signs that we as a society no longer appreciate the wonders of nature and this apathy leads to developers having free rein over what happens to our countryside, with few willing to challenge them.
When society loses respect for, and becomes detached from, the natural world then disaster lurks around the corner.
HS2 and other projects are bumbling ahead without any regard for the environment and the wildlife that will be decimated in the process. The ancient and delicate balance between mankind and nature is being ignored and in its place there's a callous disregard for the importance of protecting and conserving our native wildlife.
With nearly a hundred ancient woodlands under threat from HS2 alone and countless more imperilled by other plans such as road building and thoughtlessly placed power stations, pylons and the ubiquitous wind turbines, we stand to lose what little remains of the natural environment in this country. There are alternatives which may cost more financially but would pay us back handsomely in preserving and nurturing a healthy and diverse flora and fauna.
Perhaps though, as I mentioned, the most disheartening thing of all is that apparently people don't care. I was lucky to grow up with huge regard for nature. To me the natural world, the flowers, trees, the wildlife - it was magical and something awe inspiring. Still now to see a hedgehog out on a warm autumn evening is a beautiful thing, albeit, alas, a rare privilege. It still thrills me to stand in the midst of a flock of seagulls, feeding them as they whirl above and around me. I've heard that some councils are considering culling seagulls because tourists have complained that they are a 'nuisance'! What is going on?! Will majestic seagulls face the same disdain that some ignorant people have for pigeons, one of the few species that have been able to adapt quickly enough to survive against mans' best efforts to eradicate them?
Now it seems that roads, cars and crazy plans for high speed railways have dulled the senses of much of the population. The wonder and inspiration that the natural world has given us for millennia is all but forgotten.
I have to consider the possibility that here in the UK it may be too late to turn back the clock. The news from Germany that there has been a 75% decline in insect populations over the past fifty years will surely also be reflected here in the UK.
It seems that we may end up living in a sterile world where grey replaces green and where nobody really cares.
A world littered with redundant wind turbines that didn't succeed at anything apart from exterminating birds and bats and where offshore wind banks lured whales to their deaths on litter-strewn shores.
A world where high speed trains run half empty along tracks that take people from one urban conurbation to another unnecessarily quickly across desolate landscapes and where roads cut swathes through lifeless land where ancient forests and meadows used to support diverse species.
When man has finally extinguished the magic, then what?
There will be no wonder, no simple pleasures and no magical discoveries.
For there will be nothing but mankind left.
And then there will be nothing.
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