MESSAGE TO ALL PARTNER MEMBERS
The Trust has welcomed new partner members in the last month and I can report that we are now very representative of local councils and national and local groups, and all those who love our wonderful landscape. We can also now welcome individual supporters and more information on how to get involved can be found here.
Strategic plan now available.
A lot of work has gone into our Strategic Plan and this was discussed at our first open meeting for all our partner members held on Zoom in June. The final version has been published and can be found here. It is an ambitious plan and will of course be monitored regularly to check progress.
A victory for common sense.
After a very intense campaign by the Trust the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has scrapped its plans for an elevated dual carriageway road across one of the most beautiful landscapes in the East of England (see Media). We need to celebrate all the hard work of our partner members and many individuals who have helped us achieve this great result. It has involved meetings with the Combined Authority, attendance at Board meetings, radio interviews, letter writing and lobbying at every opportunity. Since its inception the Trust has sought to ensure that we are not viewed simply as a NIMBY organisation. We are pleased that we have demonstrated the value of our landscape not just for local biodiversity, physical and mental health and climate change, but also for the economic success of the whole of Cambridgeshire. We want to help attract both tourists and the brightest and best to come and live in work in our county, which has less ‘natural’ landscape than any other rural county in the UK.
After this success we now have more time to move onto all the other important work identified in our Strategic Plan to ‘promote, protect and enhance the Great Ouse Valley.’
Our website has been well received. Please check out our new Sights and Sounds section and send us your contributions to help us demonstrate the fantastic variety of life in the Valley. We are looking to extend and improve our social media presence and are actively seeking expertise and advice in this area. If you think you can help and advise please be in touch.
Photograph by Keith Knight
A Green Woodpecker reflected in the sunset – a new entry in Sights and Sounds.
Other important projects
We continue to work with the County Council to improve and update the Ouse Valley Way long- distance footpath. Parishes will shortly be contacted to agree dates when contractors, assisted by volunteers, will install new way-marking posts. Detailed negotiations to re-route the footpath along the river bank to avoid Meadow Lane in St Ives are now advanced. Bridge repairs and new interpretation boards are also planned.
The large project to enhance landscape and biodiversity across the Commons between Huntingdon, Godmanchester and the Hemingfords, in response to the Woodland Trust initiative to ‘’cool the rivers’, progresses well. Our partners are the Godmanchester Freemen, Huntingdonshire District Council and the farmers, and we have received great support from the Environment Agency and Natural England. Following trial plantings last winter (see Media) we are hopeful that work can re-commence this coming winter.
There are many other initiatives underway in all parts of the valley from St Neots up to Earith and the Washes. All projects are inevitably affected by the pandemic. The availability of grants in the future remains a matter of concern but we are grateful for a donation of £333 from the Waitrose Community Matters scheme last month.
The Trust has the opportunity to build on what we have achieved in the last 18 months and work towards a major Landscape Partnership project for the whole Great Ouse Valley in the near future.
The scrapping of the Third River Crossing has shown what we can achieve if we all to work together. There are exciting times ahead.
Graham Campbell, July 2020
Anglian Water announce work for eels now finished and the OVW footpath reopened May 2020
Anglian Water report that work at their Offord Intake Water Treatment Site is now complete, site cabins and equipment have been removed and the public footpath has reopened. They wish to thank the public for their co-operation throughout the scheme.
Anglian Water has now completed one of their £3.2 m investment schemes to protect endangered species. The European Eel is now classed as critically endangered after a 95% declined in population over the last 25 years.
Eels spend their early years in rivers across Europe before migrating to the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic to spawn. The spawn is then thought to use the Gulf Stream to return to our rivers, by which time they have developed into very small glass eels.
One of the reasons why the eel population is thought to have declined so rapidly in recent years is because structures in our rivers, like weirs, locks and other machinery prevents the species from completing its migration cycle in order to reproduce.
The new screens at Offord D’Arcy will stop eels from entering the abstraction intake, but the size of the mesh on the screens will also mean fish and other organisms will be protected from being drawn into the machinery.
For more information or you have any queries, please contact the Anglian Water 24-hour customer helpline on 03457 145 145 and quote reference number 55920018. Information can also be found on our ‘In Your Area’ website at www.anglianwater.co.uk/yourarea
To find out what else Anglian Water is doing for the environment follow this link: www.anglianwater.co.uk/environment
Media Release 23 APRIL 2020
WHAT PRICE THE NIGHTINGALE’S SONG?
The Great Ouse Valley Trust fears for our beautiful landscape
PHOTOGRAPH © NIGEL SPROWELL
To whom it may concern
This week a Nightingale sang. Not in Berkeley Square (although it may do again soon!) but in Godmanchester Nature Reserve. It was recorded by Great Ouse Valley Trust trustee Phil Rothwell who spoke of his emotional reaction as the amazing liquid song with its soaring pin and contrasting low jug notes poured from deep within a thicket, just a few minutes from his front door. For a rarely seen, shy bird this sound is truly amazing and has to be heard to be believed. It has lifted hearts for generations and particularly during times of crisis. For Phil it was a moment of pure joy and for a minute or two he forgot his Covid-19 worries. If you have never heard this iconic bird perform then you can listen to Phil’s recording on the GOVT Facebook Page or we can send you the file by WeTransfer.
For more and more people whose normal life has been turned upside down and for whom enormous worries loom large, the healing power of nature has become very significant. Our enforced restrictions, limited travel and more available time has resulted in increasing numbers of us really appreciating the natural world in our locality for the first time. And especially at this beautiful time of year in glorious weather. With less traffic and other general noise diminished some people are hearing birdsong for the first time.
But this may all change. If the Cambridge and Peterborough Mayor has his way, his Local Transport Plan, which includes a major new road and enormous elevated road bridge cutting through the site where the Nightingale sang, would destroy the peace and value of this fragile section of the Great Ouse Valley forever. And future generations would then only hear the song of a nightingale electronically. We cannot allow this to happen.
The Great Ouse Valley Trust (GOVT) is a charity (registration number 1179977) formed in October 2018 with the charitable objective:
“To promote for public benefit the conservation, restoration, and enjoyment of the landscape, wildlife and heritage of the Great Ouse Valley and environs in the county of Cambridgeshire.”
Members include local councils, the local Wildlife Trust, individuals and environmental groups. Visit
The Trust’s Vision recognises the Great Ouse Valley is a fantastic place to live and visit, with off the beaten track areas to explore by foot, cycle or horse. The area is nationally recognised and valued for its wildlife, leisure, natural and heritage attractions which contribute to the county’s natural green spaces. This is achieved by GOVT being the catalyst which brings national organisations, local communities and individual people together for the common good.
GOVT’s mission covers:
- Enhancement of landscape – increased biodiversity
- Promotion - sense of place, tourism and local economy, health benefits
- Protection – active conservation and campaigning
- Access for all – residents and visitors, disabled
- Partnerships and alliances: groups working together
- Increased engagement – education, volunteering
How you can voice your opinion on the proposed Third River Crossing
We have had success recently in gaining local media coverage of the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Local Transport Plan, and in particular the recent adoption of two local Prospectus for Growth reports (Huntingdon and St Ives). These contain references to a proposed river crossing between Huntingdon and St Ives and our concern is that the only suitable ‘non-built-up’ site for such a construction is between Houghton and Godmanchester. This has naturally attracted attention and we have received a number of requests from local residents who ask,’ What can we do’?
If you are as concerned as we are about this proposal and the way it is being processed through the Local Authority’s approval systems, then here are suggestions from the Trust to answer this question. The truth of the matter is that the current crisis and the effect it is having on Local Authority decision-making is making it difficult for the public to be as informed as usual. When the issues are as important as this then we believe it is our duty to do our utmost to bring them to your attention and invite you to contribute your voice to the forum in the following ways. Thank you for your support.
You can use the following information and the following questions plus anything else you see on the Great Ouse Valley Trust website to focus your communication:
The Mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough has proposed a new road, crossing the Great Ouse east of Huntington. The proposal has now also found its way into growth plans for Huntington and St Ives. The Mayor is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on feasibility studies for a road that in a very short length may cross or come very close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, a Conservation Area, a proposed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, several wildlife-rich fisheries, areas of open water, woodland and reedbed, a local Nature Reserve, a proposed Country Park and Common Lands. It potentially crosses part of the largest remaining expanses of rare flood-plain meadows in England and an ancient landscape beloved of artists and dotted with willows, wetlands and woodlands. Within close sight of the National Trust property of Houghton Mill, the proposed dual carriageway road would need to be elevated for much of its length to take it above flood level, and will constitute a massive intrusion in this picturesque part of the Ouse Valley, beloved of walkers and river users alike. The end product will be similar to the old A14 where it crosses the Ouse next to the Old Bridge in Huntington. The legality of the Mayor’s transport strategy has been questioned. The town growth plans referred to have had minimal public consultation or scrutiny. It is also unclear to what extent the public will be consulted on, or given access to, the proposed feasibility study on the crossing and associated roadworks. The cost of the feasibility study, the road and the bridge are of course colossal. The damage to our irreplaceable landscape and wildlife is incalculable.
- Please question this waste of public funds on a project of unproven and questionable value where little attention has been given either to the case or the alternative options
- Please question why the public have had so little opportunity so far to comment or object to these proposals
- Please question if such proposals for transport pass the Paris Climate Change Agreement Please question what, if any, environmental impact assessment is or will be taking place and if so demand that it be made public
- Please question how such a development supports the Government’s stated strategy for nature conservation and the environment proposed in the 25-year Environment Plan, or the proposals contained in the Government’s Environment Bill pledging to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 (see this link for further information on this issue: Forbes Website)
- Please question where are the Cambridgeshire County Council or the Huntingdonshire District Council policies that should be protecting our precious and diminishing landscape assets
If you would like us to have a copy of your correspondence and the responses you receive then we shall be pleased to keep this in order to build a picture of public opinion to inform our planning. We of course undertake to not disclose this to any third party without your permission. Thank you for your interest in the Great Ouse Valley Trust and its efforts to preserve and protect our precious landscape. If you are interested in joining our proposed new Supporters’ Group then please use this website to let us know.
From The Hunts Post website 16 April 2020
Concerns about “fragile landscape” if third river crossing goes ahead
Campaigners say beautiful countryside will be destroyed if the third river crossing goes ahead
Fragile countryside near Huntingdon would be “destroyed” if an elevated third river crossing was built, a conservation group has claimed.
The Great Ouse Valley Trust said it was “extremely concerned” that mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer still had the proposed link on his agenda despite strong opposition.
It said reports, including the third crossing, between Godmanchester and Wyton, were still tabled and approved by a meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) held electronically because of the coronavirus.
The trust said reports on the growth of Huntingdon and St Ives contained measures for improving the towns, but also a third river crossing through a “most beautiful” section of the Ouse Valley.
Graham Campbell, trust chairman, said: “The landscape of the Great Ouse valley between Huntingdon and St Ives is of great national significance and arguably Huntingdonshire’s greatest asset. As we deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the special value of this tranquil landscape for our physical and mental wellbeing comes into focus. Hopefully it will soon be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It cannot be sacrificed on a whim.
“Cambridgeshire is a county with less natural environment than any other rural county in the UK yet the countryside between Godmanchester and St Ives has rare meadows, and lakes rich in biodiversity.”
Mr Campbell said: “This fragile landscape would be destroyed by an elevated dual carriageway on enormous concrete supports raising it above the floodplain, bringing noise, pollution and ugliness to our most valuable asset. Yet this is what is proposed by James Palmer, the Mayor of the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority.”
Mr Campbell said the thinking behind a third river crossing was about the proposed redevelopment of RAF Wyton for housing and the need for a link to the A14 but there was now a growing awareness of the environment and the climate change emergency.
He said: “Even if a case for a third river crossing could be made, the value of this irreplaceable landscape would still override the argument. There is no economic argument that the road is needed in the national interest.”
Mr Campbell said assurances had been made in January that there had been no decision on the river crossing and that town and parish councils, the Wildlife Trust, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Great Ouse Valley Trust are all campaigning against the new road.
Despite several attempts mayor Palmer’s office has not responded to the newspaper.