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  1. #1

    Default Food for Thought?

    After fishing all night on one of my club gravel-pits in Essex, the dawn chorus back then was indescribably beautiful and very loud. Tens…hundreds of thousands of birds of different species heralded another day in a joyous cacophony of whistles and songs.

    There were half a dozen big, gin-clear pits, each teeming with fish and other wildlife now classified as rare – water voles were two-a-penny – and these waters could have raised one of England’s grottiest corners to become a premier site of scientific interest with bird-watching and all manner of water-sports. But this was Essex – close to London and all too convenient for the capital’s rubbish and industrial waste.

    Corruption was rife with every rule in the book being broken in order to cheaply dispose of horrific chemical cocktails by the millions of gallons. With the blessing of Thurrock Council, just about every pit and lake in the area was back-filled by a number of disposal companies who became very, very wealthy on their illegal practices. The police were not interested. Neither was the local press despite my protestations and letters to them. During the hours of darkness, convoys of up to 15 lorries at a time would race onto the site nose-to-tail in order to dump as much prohibited material as possible before sun-up…then it would return to normal, as if the night-time frenzy had never happened.

    At times, the ground would erupt in a deafening explosion and always there was a sickly fug hanging over the site and over the adjacent housing estate. Cyanide could be found, granulated, in drums; and mountains of literally millions of barbiturate phials dumped just yards from the school playing field.

    I was just a teenager, but I was fully aware even then that these foul deeds were just the tip of the iceberg which would blot the country’s landscape beyond recovery. Today, nearly 50 years on, most of these once-idyllic areas lie barren and useless, their suitability for housing or other development deemed ‘unsafe’: the ground is toxic.
    To this day, the memories are bitter and the title ‘Thurrock Council’ leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Essex had nothing less than a natural paradise of potentially international importance – but the b*****ds filled the lot with rubbish and this same crime would have been played-out, I’m sure, all around the country, ousting untold numbers of birds and mammals and insects from their homes.

    My lingering resentment is pointless; it’s history and nothing will bring back those beautiful, bountiful areas in which I spent the entirety of my teenage years, but maybe we can learn from the ‘mistakes’ and the greed of the past by adopting a proper ‘reclamation’ regime which sees councils and aggregate companies legally obliged to develop or merely conserve the oases they create. In the meantime, I strongly suggest that angling clubs and allied organizations refuse to allow the annihilation of their precious pits and quarries – even if it means level-headed wellie-wearers blocking the bulldozers’ paths and creating merry-hell. Whether or not you regard Extinction Rebellion as a bunch of left-wing pawns or as well-meaning, conscientious individuals, you must admire their willingness to stand-up (or sit down) for what they believe in and I think we as anglers should be equally active in our opposition to corporate destruction.


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    Last edited by Cliff Hatton; 26-01-2020 at 23:05.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    Alas we are more than likely going back to the future of the 1960s. Regulation and the agreements of fetters to stop such things happening are now days away from being lifted. Trump has already done it, how long before his clone follows suit?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    There is a glimmer of hope as the cost of remediation remains high that contaminated land remains of little use for deveolopment but of interest to animals and insects. We need the RSPB, NT et al to acquire these places for posterity and for fauna and flora and species other then man. Obviously if the contamination is severe then the owners of such places will need exclusions of liability which should remain with local authorities who allowed or turned a blind eye to flagrant breaches of the law.

    Animals can soon reclaim forlorn landscapes and thrive.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    I knew four blokes that turned an old coal slag heap into a lovely lake for duck shooting and nature once. I think they got the land quite cheap as it was useless for much else.
    Angling clubs, private groups, the angling trust, wealthier commercials concerns who want to expand a bit. Just all I can think of for now; couldn’t some or all of these reclaim these places. If four blokes can do it for duck shooting and nature why not for angling and nature.
    The angling trust could spearhead this one and provide funds to help out from all those grants they get. There are nature council's money, fishing license money, license fine money, pollution fines and damages etc. Is there a better way to spend this money?
    Last edited by markg; 26-01-2020 at 08:57.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    The area you talking about is where the Thames crossing is planned. They have had to change the planned route because the contaminated ground.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    Quote Originally Posted by steve2 View Post
    The area you talking about is where the Thames crossing is planned. They have had to change the planned route because the contaminated ground.
    That's certainly in the same borough, Steve, but actually a different area to the one I was referring to. Having said that, the lakes at Mucking (which you refer to) would have formed part of that greater plan I envisaged because the whole of Thurrock was dotted with gravel, sand and clay pits. For the record, the one remaining pit at Mucking was severely hit by EE's 7-10 years ago, nicking and presumably eating every pike they caught. Are you able to bring me up to speed on the lake's status nowadays? I know Essex Wildlife Trust took it over but is fishing permitted?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    Quote Originally Posted by The bad one View Post
    Alas we are more than likely going back to the future of the 1960s. Regulation and the agreements of fetters to stop such things happening are now days away from being lifted. Trump has already done it, how long before his clone follows suit?
    '...now days from being lifted'? What's happening then, Bad one?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    Come Saturday morning all the regulations such as WFD, Bathing Water Directives, Habitats directives, are technically null and void, as they are EU regulations. And will start to be diluted and abandoned as the lobbyists get to work on this govt. "He who pays the piper..........."
    And please don't tell us BoJo and his band has said they won't and you believe them Cliff!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    To provide legal continuity the Withdrawal Act enables the transposition of directly-applicable already-existing EU law into UK law, and so "create a new category of domestic law for the United Kingdom: retained EU law. This is my understanding so technically nothing will change on Saturday morning simply by effluxion of time.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Food for Thought?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikench View Post
    ...simply by effluxion of time.
    I'm guessing that's when something flows out. Like legal jargon, and other effluent.

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