SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN
Extracts of the campaign history of the 'SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN' group, which was created by Pat Regan.
WHO CARES ABOUT AN OLD FORGOTTEN LAKE IN THE BRITISH COUNTRYSIDE ANYWAY?
What you are about to read is a true-life account of a campaign instigated by ordinary local people that actually ‘care’ about the environment. People that refuse to stand by and allow business profits and authoritarian apathy to destroy the natural Eco-system of a beautiful lake in Lancs, UK. We have simply called this action group the ‘SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN.’
For the moment, with our actions in alerting the local press and with the support of certain dignitaries (including Ken Livingstone Mayor of London) we appear to have helped to stop the bulldozers yet we are ‘watching’ and will instantly alert the media if the tipping commences once again!
What follows below is just a small part of the whole ongoing story!
(Pat Regan, April, 2002)
SAVE THE 'OLD CLAYPIT' CAMPAIGN
THE MURDER OF A LAKE
(EARLY SUMMER, 2001.)
Behind HENRY ALTYS building yard in STATION ROAD, HESKETH BANK, LANCASHIRE there lies a beautiful, idyllic lake. Herein one will discover a wide variety of rare plants, animals and nesting birds some of which are actually 'protected by law.' Swans, coots, moorhens and grebe are joined by a plethora of songbirds such as thrush, chaffinch and jay. Even the kingfisher occasionally puts in an appearance too. In the reed beds, we find newts, frogs and toads along with the elusive water vole. The whole lake is a quiet haven for Mother Nature's shy creatures. Incredibly, this tree-lined wildlife reserve is licensed for HENRY ALTYS, by the ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, as a so-called LANDFILL SITE! All manner of waste is being constantly BULLDOZED into the life-rich waters and already a third of the lake has been.... DESTROYED FOREVER!
BEFORE LONG IT WILL ALL BE GONE UNDER A GROWING TIDE OF RUBBISH. THIS IS A CRIME AGAINST NATURE THAT SHOULD BE STOPPED NOW!
The 'SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN' group has alerted the media, local MPs and various wildlife bodies in an urgent bid to halt this insane 'profit-based genocide' of the natural Eco-structure in Hesketh Bank. If you really care about nature then act now! Please write to your MP, the Press and any other interested party expressing your disgust at this avoidable wildlife tragedy. Every voice can make a difference in helping us to save the lake for future generations to come.
PUT THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT BEFORE BUSINESS PROFITS!
THE DESTRUCTION OF A LANCASHIRE LAKE
SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN, MAY, 2001
ALTY’S (ENVIRONMENT AGENCY - APPROVED) ‘LANDFILL’ OPERATION CLEARLY SEEN HERE DESTROYING THE LAKE
Henry Altys (building suppliers) in Station Road, Hesketh Bank, Lancs, UK are destroying a beautiful lake known as the Old Claypit. This they are doing by permitting lorries to dump waste material into the waters. All manner of wildlife (many species protected by law) are at dire risk because of this disgusting situation.
The Village Visiter newspaper (May 16th 2001) quoted Mr Fairburn as saying:
"My great- grandfather spent 70 years digging the hole for the clay to make bricks, and now all we are doing is filling it back in."
This unbelievably crass statement clearly displays Altys total disregard for the local Eco-structure and arrogant belligerence towards a beautiful lake which they regard as a mere "hole" to be filled with waste at their convenience, and tough luck for the resident wildlife that dwells therein! Fairburn’s estimate of "102 years to fill the lake " is comical when one considers that a third of the lake has already been lost by Altys, via their landfilling operation, in the last twenty odd years. Mr. Regan mentioned that Lancashire Wildlife Trust was very concerned at the desecration occurring herein and that they held it to be a Biological Heritage Site of great interest. Mr Regan has since then written to LWT and asked them to contact Mr Fairburn as this gentleman expressed the desire to talk to their Conservation Officer about the situation.
The Save the Old Claypit campaign has received a great deal of support in this urgent matter from Environmentalists, Councillors, local MPs and Mr Ken Livingstone MP (Mayor of London). PEOPLE DO CARE ABOUT THEIR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND WANT THE BULLDOZING TO CEASE RIGHT NOW!
We urge Lancs Wildlife Trust to press for greater authoritarian action in combating the odious destruction of this beautiful part of old Lancashire. We also demand to know why the Environment Agency is allowing the lake to be destroyed, via their reckless licensing policies? We also suggest that local Cllr, John Hodson and his Newt protection group take up the Eco-banner and do something immediately to help save the Old Claypit which is a site for many rare amphibians such as frogs, toads and of course newts too. The good people of Hesketh Bank deserves to know what is happening behind the scenes and how our wildlife heritage is being sacrificed on the Altar of business profits and apathetic bureaucracy!
PLEASE HELP US TO STOP THIS DESPICABLE CRIME AGAINST NATURE NOW!
SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN
SUMMER SOLSTICE, 2001
Is it acceptable to vandalise a wonderful lake in the name of business profits and authoritarian apathy?
Who is the public to believe? Lancs County Council, who state that operations at Henry Altys are "not in breach of any planning control" or the Environment Agency who have given the building firm 28 days to clean up their act and stop tipping rubbish over the line of the "boom" or face legal action!
Surely now the main task for local News Reporters is to spell out the double standards, hypocrisy and overwhelming bureaucracy that may ensure the continuing destruction of the Old Claypit! Lancs County Council inform us that vital laws set up to protect Lancashire Wildlife at this fragile Biological Heritage Site are apparently useless as they are overridden by older Planning Status regulations. In layman’s terms this means: It’s okay for Altys to destroy the lake and its inhabitants because they own the place and the law of the land is in their favour! Tough luck for any protected species therein! If current laws do permit such diabolical Ecological Genocide then they need to be addressed by the relevant authorities immediately! It is clear that firms like Henry Altys cannot be allowed to continually destroy the local habitat of rare wildlife species in Hesketh Bank. Why are the EA and the Council not doing more for our environment and its innocent creatures? Why does pressure in these situations always have to be mounted by voluntary campaign groups like ours?
We demand to know why the authorities let this situation occur in the first place and then fester on to the detriment of the wildlife at the lake! Times change. The intolerable situation at Altys so-called Landfill Site may have been somehow acceptable to ancient planning authorities that didn't have any regard for nature, yet today such a position is highly unacceptable.
Please help us to save the OLD CLAYPIT and its wonderful wildlife before it’s too late!
SAVE THE OLD CLAYPIT CAMPAIGN
(June, 2001 Bulletin)
The campaign to save the Old Claypit Lake behind Henry Altys’ building yard, Station Road, Hesketh Bank, has received a great deal of support since Village Visiter reporter, Mike Taylor kindly helped us to highlight this issue in his revealing article "Campaign to save Old Claypit wildlife haven" of 16th May.
This revealing article mentioned the concerns of our Campaign Manager, Pat Regan, against the destruction of the lake, via Altys’ tipping policy. It also went on to state that we have the backing of prominent dignitaries including Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London. However, more was yet to come as our campaign strategy really started to bite deep. Reporter Guy Woodford of the Lancs Evening Post went on to produce yet another hard-hitting article on June 5th, entitled: "Building yard bosses rapped. Ultimatum over landfill dumping." This excellent piece stated that Altys had been given 28 days to clean up their act or face "legal action" from the Environment Agency. At long last our campaign has started to have a beneficial effect for the beleaguered wildlife at the lake. The Media are now starting to broadcast the news that this firm has apparently been eroding the fragile habitat of many rare creatures (including the GREAT CRESTED NEWT, a protected species that carries a killing fine of £5000) for many years. Although the threat of legal action against Altys is a great victory for our campaign we will not however become complacent, as the show certainly isn't over just yet. The reason for this comment? Well the Environment Agency is STILL permitting this building firm to tip into the lake hence the wildlife is STILL being adversely affected. Furthermore, the EA recently stated (in a written response to Ronnie Fearn MP) whilst mentioning their "Ecological Survey" conducted in March, and we quote: "HOWEVER WE DID NOT IDENTIFY ANY SPECIES THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO STOP THE LANDFILLING". Coming from an agency that is supposed to protect the environment this is very hard to understand. If the EA had bothered to contact the LANCS WILDLIFE TRUST they would have discovered that this voluntary organization have previously identified several protected species at this site including: four species of amphibians (and yes the Great Crested Newt), Lesser Marshwort (a rare plant type) and numerous other creatures deserving more than extinction at the thoughtless sweep of a bureaucratic pen stroke! Why we ask then is the EA not listening to the LWT? The local press must highlight this vital point as soon as possible!
Lancs County Council previously wrote to us expressing concern over the "legal status" of the tipping, permitted by the EA, at this lake. They told us clearly that they believed that the portion of the lake which had carried a landfilling licence was now already filled in, thus making any further tipping therein by Altys possibly illegal. We have of course made the media fully aware of this situation!
THE FIGHT CONTINUES!
We will not halt our campaign until the bulldozers stop destroying this marvellous wildlife sanctuary!
Below is a list of individuals/groups that our campaign has contacted for help. Some have nailed their colours to the mast and been very helpful whilst others have been of NO USE at all. Some have actually worked ‘against’ our campaign because of their own HIDDEN AGENDAS! Contact us for more details.
ENGLISH NATURE, MIKE BEARD, CONSERVATION OFFICER. (TEL: 01942 614014).
ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, PRESTON OFFICE AND DR DAVID CLARKE, HEAD OF FISHERIES IN BRISTOL.
COLIN PICKTHALL MP (TEL 020 7219 3000).
RONNIE FEARN MP (020 7219 5116).
DAVID BORROW MP.
DAVE DUNLOP, WILDLIFE TRUST FOR LANCASHIRE.
LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL.
MIKE NASH, (SECRETARY OF 'SOUTHPORT FLY FISHERS' CLUB THAT RENT THE LAKE FROM ALTYS.)
CHAMPION NEWSPAPER, NICKY WILLIAMS.
SOUTHPORT VISITER, GRAHAM BAILY.
KEN LIVINGSTONE MP. MAYOR OF LONDON
FLY FISHING & FLY TYING MAGAZINE, (EDITOR, MARK BOWLER) TEL/FAX: +44 (0) 1887 830526.
TROUT AND SALMON MAGAZINE (JOHN WILSHAW, FEATURES EDITOR) TEL: 01733 237111.
After all this campaigning behind the scenes I finally managed to stop the rot and the bulldozers went away. Today, the birds nest on the lake and peace reigns supreme - let's hope it stays this way!
I have reported at some length about this issue in my book 'Dirty Politics':
NEW THREAT TO LAKE?
On 27 February 2013 this following data was brought to my attention. I hope this is not going to be yet another reason to protest in defence of the lake and its wildlife.
NB. News extracts below of how things originally developed...