What would Douglas Adams think of this?

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.


13 Replies to “What would Douglas Adams think of this?”

  1. Hi Mark,think all nature and wildlife going to have a very hard time as politicians have manoeuvred themselves in positions to back shooting and also have obviously made sure any information that they want kept quite is almost unavailable.

      1. Not sure, maybe he can defend the individuals that go on these mindless holidays to blast rapidly declining European species? I bet Magnus would love a jaunt to Morocco though. Somehow you can almost understand local Moroccans taking part in this, but those brits squeezing in a quick round of dove blasting before a spot of grouse shooting cant exactly use the tradition trump card here. I’m sure they can however bleat about the importance to the local economy in supporting ‘tea boys’ and ‘bird boys’ as listed in the trip dossier, is that child labour or are you allowed to do what you like when its ‘tradition’?

        1. Good heavens, is nothing sacred ? Shooting the Turtle Dove is one of life’s great pleasures. The real scandal here is that is thanks to the appalling mess that the bunny huggers have made of the British countryside, we sportsman have to travel to North Africa in order to get a tutrtle dove in our sights.
          And yes our patronage does wonders for the natives, my Berber tea boy can feed his family for a fortnight after I’ve tipped him.

  2. The main problem is that you people down there in the deep south are breeding too fast and also washing too much stop washing and then you may be repulsive to the opposite sex. then there may be no need to drain Catfield Fen

    1. DavidH – that’ll be it then, sorted. Thanks, It’s so simple really. Good job UK dominated by S-ly winds, then?

  3. Environmental damage regs actually used! See Private Eye 1321, 24 August, p.31. That’s the way to do it! But they don’t like it …

      1. Briefly: Llyn Padarn, arctic char, angling soc. allege Welsh Water sewage discharge, EA fob-off as natural algal blooming, goes on for years, independent analysis showed elevated phosphorus, angling soc. served Env Damage notice, WW remedial works now under way.

        Now EA wants char catch records to assess economic impact of angling – but without pressure from anglers nothing would have happened, eutrophication would have continued, with all consequences.

        Catch 22 is higher in best fiction list than Hitchhikers’.

        1. Filbert – thank you. Catch 22 has been around for longer, and is a jolly good book too. It has the added advantage that everyone uses (mostly misuses) the term Catch 22. Hitchhiker’s’s time will come!

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