Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Bugs You?

Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis) - a beautiful bumblebee that has declined massively in the UK and is now in a perilous position Now, I do not expect anyone to be perfect and I am the first to admit that I am not myself. Any Green audit on me will show that there is still plenty that I could and should be doing. But what I do not do is try to convince others that I am Greener than Green. That’s what really gives me the goat.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year sponsored by, of all people, Shell is a case in point. But this one has really got my biscuit and it’s a chocolate one too.

Recently the Royal Mail issued a set of commemorative stamps featuring endangered insects. OK so far. But then we learn from Buglife that the company are planning to build a Distribution Centre on West Thurrock Marshes, one of the richest and most important wildlife sites in the UK.

The national wildlife charity took the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation to the High Court in February to try to save the Marshes, which are home to more rare and endangered animals than many of our finest nature reserves. But, in a ruling that was condemned by conservationists as a huge setback for the UK’s wildlife protection laws, Mr Justice Mitting pronounced that in this case the proposed warehouses and lorry park were more important than the endangered wildlife. The Buglife appeal seeks to reverse that ruling.

So far Royal Mail have shown scant regard for the insects that its development is set to destroy – and Buglife Director Matt Shardlow isn’t impressed: "The fact that the Royal Mail is launching a set of stamps featuring endangered insects while their own plans will endanger many of our rarest insects is a classic example of spin over substance," says Shardlow. “Today we call on Royal Mail to stop stamping out wildlife – there are lots of alternative sites for this development that are not home to endangered animals.”

To coincide with their new campaign ‘Stop them stamping out our wildlife’ the charity has prepared its own range of ‘stamps’, one featured.

West Thurrock Marshes on the banks of the river Thames was once a flower-rich marshland. A power station was built there after the war and large areas were used as a dumping ground for fuel ash. When the power station closed down in the early 1990s wildlife began to return. The site is now one of the richest and most important wildlife sites in the UK, home to over 1300 species of invertebrate, bird and plant. Many of the animals were once inhabitants of the now largely destroyed flower rich grasslands and upper saltmarsh of the Essex coast and are today extremely rare and endangered; there are 36 species listed in the Government’s Red Data Book of rare species and seven animals prioritised for UK conservation action.


  1. I subscribe to the 'Bumble Bee Society' program (Stirling University) and they were so excited, thinking that the marshes would be saved in the name of endangered species amongst insects.
    Your article mentions alternative sites for the Royal Mail depot. I hope they listen.
    Also, from memory, at a National Society of Allotments and Gardening and Leisure meeting, one of the representatives from the Thurrock area said that they were no plans for allotments in the planned urbanisation of the area and that Thurrock Council was powerless against the Thames Gateway Development.
    Obviously, some pressure has to be applied somewhere. (Not little me, please, I am fully occupied by reminding Redbridge Council Cabinet, Councillors and Officials that allotments are a vital part of an urban environment!)

  2. May your reminders fall on fertile ground.

  3. Green is good. And the increasingly people are asking for it. Others are promoting green home audits, where you might hear about bamboo flooring, recycled glass tiles, organic cotton drapes, and different cleaning products. All fine things. But in homes, the heart of green comes down to the efficiency, safety, and durability of a home. As I like the say, the foundation of green is building science and its sibling energy-efficiency. A green audit must include a thorough look at the homes performance. This short video ( describes some of the fundamental things to look at.