Monday 28 February 2011: Serenity
View from Sandside across the Kent to Whitbarrow
A late blip today. I knew this was going to be a long and challenging day at work, so I stopped for 5 minutes of Sandside serenity before heading for the office in Kendal.
From there a few of us headed north where we spent the day and evening running a drop-in day in a village hall in the north of the county. This was aimed to try and regain and build some trust in the local community for what we are trying to achieve on a large raised bog.
The bog has been milled for its peat, creating a black featureless waste devoid of all life. Enough peat remains though to allow restoration to a functioning bog, and an agreement has been reached to buy out the planning permission 30 years ahead of work finishing. A costly exercise that will eventually yield the reward of a rare and vanishing habitat being recreated with its colourful bog mosses, and its dragonflies, cotton grasses and sundews. But there are other costs, the jobs of local people lost, and farmers concerned about the effect of restoration on their adjacent land. Feelings were running high and were eloquently expressed.
Today was an opportunity for people to vent their feelings about the way the buy-out has been handled and to articulate the effect on people of a decision that was taken remotely at European and national level. I believe in what we do, and mostly our work by its very nature is beneficial to people, or at least is cost neutral. This case is unusual and it's discomfiting to be confronted with the impacts it will have on lives and livelihoods locally, even though arguably this is for the general good.
Despite the strength of feeling, you can't help be impressed by the decency and courtesy of people when you speak to them on a 1:1. And that was the idea of the drop-in day, to show the human face and not to hide away behind the bureaucratic mask.