Welcome to the grass e-route for 12th January 2012, featuring HS2, the Welsh Countryside Alliance Awards Champions for 2011 and some key diary dates for the year.
The Countryside’s High Speed Problem
Most of you will have seen that this week the Government approved plans to build a High Speed Rail line between London and Birmingham (known as HS2). The line – which it is estimated will cost £17 billion in its first phase and won’t be operational until 2024 – will carve through some of Britain’s most cherished and unspoilt countryside, uprooting several thousand families and ruining many rural communities. For this reason the Countryside Alliance has been strongly opposed to its construction.
In our opposition to HS2 we have partnered with various other organisations – from the campaign groups formed of those who live along the line such as AGAHST and 51M; environmental groups like the Green Party and Woodland Trust; and the economic think-tanks the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Adam Smith Institute. Together we have consistently made the point that high speed rail projects are hugely expensive and therefore must offer significant benefits to justify investing this amount of public money.
To this argument the Countryside Alliance adds that we believe that the wildlife and environmental costs of the HS2 project have not been properly evaluated and that, despite people living along the planned route being the most affected, they will gain little or no local benefits. Despite the late Government concessions of extra tunnels in the Chilterns and new noise-reduction measures, we remain dubious as to whether this will make any overall difference to the environmental impact of the rail line, which will still consume huge amounts of energy and damage many important sites for wildlife. Equally these last-minute changes, as with the route north of Birmingham (the so-called ‘Y’ network to Leeds and Manchester that will cost another £15 billion), have also not been put forward for public consultation and we therefore haven’t been able to assess their probable effects.
Perhaps most of all we are concerned about what the HS2 project means for Britain’s countryside and the people who live in it. When the Government proposed changes to the planning rules there was a noisy and boisterous backlash from some quarters who worried that the countryside was being “concreted over”. Yet the Alliance recognised that the countryside still needed to grow and that, provided local people had the ability to stop a new development if it was not in keeping with their community, the planning system needed overhaul. In the case of HS2 the legitimate concerns of local people have been all-but ignored, and the countryside looks set to suffer greatly from a loud, polluting, destructive train line plotted through an area of outstanding natural beauty, farms and farming land, and people’s homes.
We will continue to voice our opposition to this project and urge the Government to reassess the possibility of improving the existing rail network as an alternative.
Wales' CA Awards Champions
Wales' rural business champions were unveiled in Cardiff last night at the Countryside Alliance Awards reception at the Welsh Assembly. The Welsh winners in the 'Rural Oscars' now go forward to the Grand Final against fellow rural businesses from across the UK and the chance to shine a national spotlight on Welsh produce, skills and enterprise.
The 2011 winners across the four categories were unveiled by CA Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, chair of the judging panel, and were presented by Environment and Sustainable Development Minister John Griffiths AM. The reception was attended by a cross-party group of supportive Assembly Members who all agreed how important it is to recognise and celebrate our unique rural businesses.
Further winners from around the UK will be announced in due course but meantime, we congratulate the Champions for Wales who are as follows. Good luck to all!
Local Food category Champion
: Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, Hawarden 01244 533442 http://hawardenestate.co.uk Village shop/ Post Office category Champion
: Cwm Trannon, Trefeglwys, Caersws, 01686 430430, www.cwmtrannon.co.uk Enterprise category Champion
: Bob Valentine Shooting School, Llanbedrog, 01758 740 810, http://www.theshootingschool.com Butcher category Champion
: TJ Roberts Butchers, Bala, 01678 520471
Diary dates for 2012
Enclosed are some key diary dates for 2012, including some Countryside Alliance events. The Countryside Alliance will also have a presence at key country shows and horse trials. Please note that this is in no way an exhaustive list and contains the events about which we field the most enquiries. More information about CA events can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org
- 17th February - Fakenham Race Day, Fakenham
- 25-26 February - British Shooting Show at Newark, Notts
- 26th February - The Jackson-Stops and Staff Countryside Alliance Point-to-Point at Badbury Rings, Dorset.
- 9th March - Sandown Countryside Race Day & CA lunch
- 13-16th March - The iconic Cheltenham Festival, featuring the Gold Cup on Friday 16th March.
- 1st April - The Third Annual Ascot Countryside Race Day
- 29th April - Countryside Point-to-Point at Parham, West Sussex
- 3-7th May - Mistubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials
- 9th May - Hereford Countryside Race Day
- 12-13th May - Whitfield Clay Shoot, Northumberland
- 19th May - Uttoxeter Countryside Race Day
- 30th May - 2nd June - The Royal Bath and West Show
- 7th - 9th June - South of England Show
- 19-23rd June - Royal Ascot
- 21-24 June - Royal Highland Show
- 29 June - 1st July - The GWCT Scottish Game Fair, Scone Palace
- 10-12 July - Great Yorkshire Show
- 13-15 July - Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe Park
- 20-22 July - CLA Game Fair, Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Lincs
- 23-26 July - Royal Welsh Show
- 30 August - 2 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
- 31 August - 2 September - Chatsworth Country Fair
- 15-16 September - The Midland Game Fair
Hound show dates for 2012, courtesy of the Hunting Office
Key Olympic Dates
- Thursday 7th June - Ardingly
- Thursday 28th June - Builth Wells
- Wednesday 11th July - Harrogate
- Wednesday 18th July - Festival of Hunting, Peterborough
- Thursday 2nd August - Honiton
- Thursday 16th August - Rydal
- Saturday 18th August - Scottish Hound Show
Point-to-Point meetings this weekend
SUNDAY 15th JANUARY
DUNSTON HARRIERS at AMPTON (Suffolk) IP31 1NS
First race: 12noon
Admission prices: £10 per adult, 16yrs and under free when accompanied by an adult
SILVERTON FOXHOUNDS at BLACK FOREST LODGE (Devon) EX6 8NW
First race: 12noon
Admission prices: £20 per car, £10 single occupancy and pedestrians
YORKSHIRE AREA POINT-TO-POINT CLUB at SHERIFF HUTTON (North Yorkshire) YO60 7TN
First race: 12noon
Admission prices: £10 per person
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