Wildlife and history collide at St Bridgets Church, Beckermet. Jenny Wrens scutter amongst the fading bluebells which nod beneath ancient crosses dating from 1100.
One of the old stone crosses has runic inscriptions saying we know not what – maybe saying “here, this soil, these springs, are yours to look after.” A large diversity of wildflowers and herbs are found at the adjacent Church Moss including Royal Fern. Rare beetles are also found here including the strange Black Oil Beetle. On Saturday we saw a slow worm sunning itself beneath white wild roses at the exact spot where NuGen plan to install military fences, razor wire and armed police around their proposed untried, untested nuclear reactors.
Church Moss has been given official designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest but apparently this does not strengthen the increasingly weak knees of the Environment Agency who have bowed down before the fanaticism of the nuclear mafia. The developers, NuGen describe this special place as “an empty reactor site.” How dare they?!
I suppose they dare because no one, NO ONE is challenging them. No one dares to go against the nuclear industry’s diabolic plan for Cumbria – why is that? Oh Yes, we have have challenged them, we being a rag tag group of Cumbrians who oppose nuclear, but where are the organisations that have “conservation” and “protection” in their job descriptions? Those who say they love Cumbria and Lakeland – where are they? If they are waiting for the right moment they are leaving it very late.
We walked from Church Moss in the sunshine along the path/cycle track that follows the old railway track. The story has it that there is still a steam locomotive under the flood plain of the river Ehen – it derailed and got stuck, so stuck it had to be left there in what the locals call “the boggles” (or Bog Holes on old maps). NuGen call this area a “brown field” site on the strength of the old railway track. Once there were quite a few farms here on this fertile land between the mountains, the River Ehen and the Irish Sea. The farms were bought up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the farmers allowed tenancy at at a peppercorn rent, so we are told. The land has been bought by the public purse. It should be kept and nurtured as a vital public amenity, a buffer zone between the village of Beckermet and Sellafield’s rotting ponds of nuclear waste.
As we walked along in the sunshine accompanied by the sounds of oystercatcher, lapwing and curlew, there were already signs of increasing industrialisation from the 300+ boreholes. Many of these boreholes are on the flood plain of the river Ehen. Remember this desecration is taking place even before the sham CONsultation by the developers. The upper reaches of the River Ehen are, like Church Moss also “protected” and this time the protection is supposedly of international importance. There is huge investment in time and money spent on the upper reaches of the Ehen and its source, Ennerdale. but when it gets to the lower reaches, all that lavish care is slung out of the window.
If an industrial site of ANY kind, never mind grotesque nuclear with its need for huge excavation of the land to emplace massive concrete foundations, is allowed near to a sensitive watercourse, pollution WILL occur. And that does not include the radioactive pollution merely, the cement, oils, silts and construction chemicals. Remember that Sellafield routinely pollutes the river Calder and the Irish Sea as a matter of course. The wildlife of West Cumbria, and that includes Lakeland, has already been irreversibly impacted upon by the nuclear industry.
The River Ehen is being set up for an accumulating toxic shock courtesy of NuGen, this is the same old industry pretending to be innocent of ongoing crimes at Sellafield and Fukushima. Toshiba now owns BNFLs Westinghouse which also produces the fuel for reactors worldwide in Preston – kind of the all powerful coca cola of the nuclear industry.
The welfare of the already denuded Atlantic Salmon, Fresh Water Pearl Mussels, Natterjack Toad, Slow Worm, Oyster Catcher, Northern Pintail and the remaining and increasingly important wildlife in this unique place is due to be sacrificed. Sacrificed on the alter of “the biggest nuclear development in Europe.” Unless… UNLESS
Note: all the photographs were taken yesterday at the “Moorside” site – the land between the village of Beckermet and the Sellafield site.