Douglas Adams, who wrote the five books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, was a great environmentalist. Hitchhikers is a book about environmentalism – and the fact it is funny doesn’t make it any the less serious.
At the beginning of the book, when Arthur Dent’s house is to be demolished, he is told that he should have known that this was about to happen as the plans for the bypass to go through his house had been available for ages – and we learn that they were on display ‘in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘ in the cellar, down some missing stairs and where the lights weren’t working. But they were on display.
Later, the inhabitants of a planet, naming no names, are told that they should pay more attention to local issues if they don’t want their planet to be demolished for a hyperspace bypass. It’s a brilliant beginning to a book, and I think that if you have read the book you are remembering and smiling right now and if you haven’t read the book then – you should!
I wrote about Catfield Fen back in May and I’ve been keeping an eye on it since. You may remember that Natural England classify some of this site as being in unfavourable condition because of water abstraction. There are two applications to renew water abstraction licences being considered, and consulted upon, now.
This is the link to the consultation and you can request (as I have done) a copy of the documents (application, supporting evidence and hydrology report) to be posted to you. Or you can go to Norwich or Ipswich in normal office hours to have a look yourself. I have no idea whether you should take a torch or a ladder.
You’ll notice that the Environment Agency say that there is a high amount of local interest. Let’s try and make that a certain amount of national interest too. Is the ENVIRONMENT Agency doing a good job for the environment here? Is Natural England? Which NGOs are active on this case? Who are the friends of Catfield Fen?
I suspect that this case may raise questions over the extent to which agriculture and environment are each given the benefit of the doubt in a complex case. I suspect that it may raise issues over the working relations between EA and NE – both muzzled, neutered and caged watchdogs in the Defra ‘family’, and I suspect that Douglas Adams would have been on the side of the orchids, butterflies and water voles.