How wonderful! I open my email this morning and what do I see? An update from my kind, caring and socially responsible Local Authority, the ever green Wokingham Borough Council asking ME what I would like to see done in MY AREA to SAVE THE PLANET! How apposite that this should come on the very day that I lay in bed listening to Radio 4 telling me that the caring, socially responsible and ever green Conservative Government want to invest in rewilding! Please excuse the use of capital letters, exclamation marks and emojis but surely this is a time for National Rejoicing :-) !!! Truly we are blessed, because not only do the UK Government and the Local Authority agree that the Climate Emergency is really happening, they actually want to DO SOMETHING about it!!
Now add a couple more magical ingredients. The University of Reading, world renowned bastion of environmental science and sustainability that it is, is falling over itself in its desire to be "The Greenest University In the Country, if not the World". Hallelujah? Not quite yet, because despite the environmental damage putting in 4,500 houses, plus roads and other infrastructure will do to this area, they have in mind selling this land for around £400 Million to the aforementioned Local Authority :-(
But wait, WBC are asking for my ideas on combating the Climate Emergency : "We want to work together with the community to review our climate emergency action plan and come up with new ideas to improve the borough's carbon footprint" https://engage.wokingham.gov.uk/en-GB/folders/taking-action-climate-emergency
More! In what the government describes as "radical plans", landowners and farmers will be allowed to bid for funding to turn vast areas of land - between 500 and 5,000 hectares - over to wildlife restoration, carbon sequestration, or flood prevention projects. Brilliant! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59886350
Now for yet another magic ingredient to be added to the mix: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum_Jubilee_of_Elizabeth_II "The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II will be marked in 2022 in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. In the United Kingdom, an extra bank holiday will be created and the traditional Spring bank holiday will be moved from the end of May to the start of June, to create a special four day Jubilee bank holiday weekday weekend from Thursday 2 June 2022 to Sunday 5 June 2022. The British government has promised a "once-in-a-generation show" that will "mix the best of British ceremonial splendour and pageantry with cutting edge artistic and technological displays". It will be the first time that any British monarch has celebrated a platinum jubilee."
I think 70 years of our Monarch requires more than just a bank holiday and a light show. She deserves something that will ring down the ages, that will still be here a Millenia or more from now. Put that together with Readings bid to become a city in 2022 and I came up with: "The Platinum Jubilee Wildlife Park" :-) What better way to celebrate 70 years loyal service from Queen Elizabeth? What better way for UoR to prove their environmental credentials? What better way to for WBC to combat the Climate Emergency? What better way for this National Government to put its money where its mouth is? More to the point, what better way to preserve this oasis of open green space on the edge of the nascent "City of Reading"? Get the call for sponsors out and this is the investment opportunity of a lifetime. ALL OUR LIFETIMES!
One last point. According to WBC "We have to have a plan for development or we will have control of development taken away from us". Really? Population growth is currently 0.4% (according to the Office for National Statistics). House building in Wokingham is currently 6.1% of the National total (according to a recent Daily Mail article) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10251317/Stats-reveal-idyllic-English-locations-new-build-developments-recent-years.html So do we really need another 4,500 houses when we are already building over twelve times as many as we need? The Neighbourhood Plan calculated we need a lot less than 4,500 new houses: "NP 6.17: The additional housing units required in Arborfield and Barkham between 2011 and 2036 is 899. This is a half of the 1,800 already committed up to 2036 in the SDL”.
If we really need a "Garden Village" can I very politely suggest you stick it up the North of the Borough? Personally, and thank you for asking, I want to see Hall Farm rewilded. And the best bit? You don't need to do anything. Nowt, zilch, nada, zero, nothing! Just leave it alone and let nature do the rest.