Twenty years ago the Lake District National Park declared that a famous stand of beech trees in the Rusland valley were “dead diseased and dying” not to mention “ugly” and that in the interests of public safety the trees should be clearfelled. Video from 1997
Many people disagreed and thought the line of 200 year old trees a thing of beauty.
Scientists and tree experts also lent their weight to the long campaign in spite of the local great and good from Cumbria Wildlife Trust to Friends of the Lake District backing up the plan to clearfell.
The Lake District National park’s vision of what is safe and beautiful did not extend to the Rusland beeches 20 years ago. Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder.
An example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder is news that the former head of the LDNPA is lending his weight to the ‘beautifying’ of proposed new nuclear build at the Lakeland village of Beckermet.
The ‘Moorside’ proposal (over an area of three farms by the river Ehen floodplain) would trash increasingly threatened wildlife, special sites of scientific and historic interest, miles of hedgerow and would double Sellafield’s sprawl visible from many Lakeland peaks. It would be the biggest new nuclear build in Europe.
Former LDNPA boss Paul Tiplday is one of the “judges” of this unprecedented nuclear greenwash and grooming exercise in the plan to more than double the footprint of Sellafield. “The Royal Institute of British Architects has launched an open design competition for architectural elements on Cumbria’s £10 billion Moorside nuclear power station The unprecedented contest – described as a world first for the nuclear industry – aims to create a ‘positive lasting legacy’ for the 3.6GW triple-reactor plant. The surprise announcement comes a decade after former RIBA president Jack Pringle condemned government plans for a new wave of nuclear power stations on cost and safety grounds (see AJ 04.05.06). Backed by plant operator NuGen, the RIBA contest seeks ideas for the 200 hectare site’s visitor centre, accommodation block and masterplan. A separate competition – organised by the Landscape Institute (LI) – has also been launched to find ‘creative and sustainable’ proposals for the controversial facility’s surroundings”.
20 years ago the LDNPA sought to protect the safety of Cumbrians from falling branches – and all credit to them for that. Taking it to the extreme and clearfelling all trees at the side of the road would have been an over reaction to what would always be, even in the awful worst case scenario, a localised threat.
Nuclear new build no matter how it is dressed up would use the same old crappy and dangerous technology next to what is already the most hazardous nuclear site in the world. The waste from “high burn” new build would be four times as radioactive.
This would not be a localised threat.
As the crow flies the “dead, diseased and dying” Rusland beeches are just 22 miles from the proposed Moorside site which has been described by former US nuclear regulator Arnie Gundersen as “Chernobyl on Steroids”
But it will be ‘beautiful’ and the former Head of the LDNPA will help choose the architectural look. No one got to look at why former Head of the LDNPA Paul Tiplady was suspended on full pay pending an independent investigation which it seems (??) never concluded. Mr Tiplady’s wife, a well regarded social historian, interestingly, has a background in “nuclear and defence.”
The present head of the LDNPA, Richard Leafe, instead of opposing dangerous new nuclear build in order to protect the public, has, incredibly offered up the Lake District as a playground for the proposed boom and boost influx of nuclear workers, telling the government that: “We’ll have to find a way of getting the temporary workers to release some of their adrenaline in the Lake District national park at the weekends”
Maybe Moorside should be something architecturally similar to Gotham… And like Gotham remain as a dystopian fantasy. The Rusland Beeches are real and beautiful.