Glad to see that the bridges over Heber's Ghyll are getting a refurb. It's just up the road from me, and one of the area's most beautiful places. Oh go on then, a bit of cynicism... it's about bloody time.
There's an interesting interview in The Guardian this week with Julian Cope. The Copester, famed for some of Britain's most entertainingly surreal pop, is of course also an expert on prehistorical sites of interest. His book, The Modern Antiquarian, is a classic. The point he's making is that the past cannot be preserved in aspic. More important than the actual placement or composition of particular sites is the intent with which they were constructed. He also calls for more modern equivalents of standing stones. Which doesn't mean sticking up boulders in fields, but creating places that develop a sacred sense of space. The Angel of the North is a perfect example. What this suggests to me is that rather than trying to preserve Ickley as a chocolate box Victorian town (something that anyway is a little difficult given the roar of non pasaran's roadworking teams), we should keep the ideal of the place whilst allowing it to move forward. The recent strange screams about the possibility of wind turbines on the moor neglects the fact that a place like Chelker Reservoir has been imbued with a strange and almost mystical beauty by the installation of three turbines. Looking from the top of the moor, one can just see the fungal growths that make up NSA Menwith Hill--a place I violently object to for what it does, but which adds an elegaic other-worldliness to the view. So, rather than following the town's unelected minority in the Civic Society, who appear to want everything from their phantasy of what Ickley once was to remain for ever, we should be accepting that we live in a modern town with a fantastic heritage, preserving what needs to be preserved, but developing with spirit what should be developed, maintaining the sense of the wild which surrounds us. Which doesn't mean, of course, continuing to fail to do anything about the appalling state of the Panorama Stones...Ilkley's genuinely internationally important pre-historic rocks currently abandoned to vandals. Those really are worth protecting. And the ICS is doing what to help?
I still haven't received my voting form. Angel got hers last week. Same address, same council tax bill, but nothing for ilkleyrocks. Is it a conspiracy I ask? How can I now exercise my vote (which has always sounded like taking it for a walk)? Am I still exercising my vote if all I have to do is sit in a sofa and fill a form in...perhaps the very term should be changed? All these thoughts and less have been passing through my mind.
Glad to see the plans for the 'bund' got through. The Ilkley riverside will now be home to a metre high (that's three feet in old money) mud bank, designed to deter our regular summer visitors. Its obvious what's going on. With the command posts set up on the A65, through the new traffic lights, it was important that the junta got control of the wild road into town. This new bank (the German name is something of a give-away), is obviously to be the resting place for a machine gun nest, where machine gun himself will sweep the Denton Road with bullets should anyone non-white, non-rich and non-tory come into view.
It's election season again, and while no one seems too sure about what the Labour Party are doing, and there seem to be a gallimaufry of neo-fascist contenders, it's the tories, as always, that amuse me. As the ruling junta in Ilkley for the last century or so (since Oswald Lister threw in the towel), they use their dominance of the naice bits of Bradford to impose their strange policies (making facist salutes at political opponents for instance) on areas in need of just a little help. Quite what residents of Manningham think of the amount spent on floral displays in Ilkley doesn't bear thinking about (yes, well done Ilkley in Bloom, for cheating your way to another award). But they know they're going to be elected anyway. This time it's on the back of the team with the plan...not a lot of detail in the leaflet but a big image of no pasaran, Citizen Smith and the 'other one'. There's a few insults in there...'two jags Prescott' (a slight piece of hypocrisy from no pasaran there, given she drives a rather large Jaguar XK8 with a personalised number plate (Ann1 IIRC)) and some lovely photos...the three of them holding out a map on the bootiful new cobbles on The Grove...the map appears to show plans for some sort of concentration camp. And there's a photo of the regeneration of Mill Ghyll. And very pretty it looks too. ONly it had to be taken from a slight angle. Thanks to no pasaran, of course, there's a whopping great slab of metal directly in front of the Ghyll, obscuring any straight-on photos; yup, thanks once again for those new lampposts Councillor! You've been a bit hoist by your own petard there... Surely it's time for a change?
So last year a few of our beloved councillors decide that they'd rather like a summer festival. Put Ilkley on the map, don'cha know? So they organise it, and some bits (the French Market) are great, and some show the councillors' usual organisational genius (turning the climactic firework display into something of a damp squib by arranging for the fireworks to come on the wrong day!) And this year they want to do it again. Only better. But they decide they need some more money to make it work, so they go to the Parish Council and they ask for some more money. Would have been an interesting conversation.. Hawksworth: 'How much do you think you need?' Hawksworth spins round to face the other wall: 'well, about two grand should do it..' Hawksworth spins back: 'okey-dokey, here ya go..' and hands over the dosh. That's our dosh, of course. Money paid by us from our council tax precept and awarded by a group of councillors to a pet project of one of those councillors? Can you spell ethics Mrs Hawksworth? Can you spell audit ofice?
ANd where, pray, is the second edition of the Parish newsletter, an apparent requirement for them in the junta to receive Total Quality Parish Status, oh and incidentally to tell us all about the proposals for splitting the parish, but nothing's come through our doors. Or anyone else that I know. Where's the money for printing gone? Has machine gun been expanding his private pr0n stash again? Even old Heathcote 'windy moor' Bowen has been on the warpath. That would be an ineffectual, limp-wristed, old before his time warpath, of course...
And while I'm thinking about no paseran, the way she's treating the idea of White Wells being put into a trust is shameful. The idea isn't that bad. It starts to get some immediately local control back. Unfortunately, we all know who will be in control...the Golf Club and Tennis Club unelected crony brigade. Who can't organise a firework display on a bank holiday. But the idea, well, okay.. Only White Wells is tenanted. And she hasn't mentioned her plans to the current tenants. It's common courtesy surely? To say, 'I have some proposals that might change whose responsible for repairs on the place you live. But no... So get on up to White Wells and sign the petition against the move. God knows what the regime intend to do with the place...turn it into a casino I shouldn't wonder. Or the control centre for the nuclear power station duhhr's planning.
As scare stories go, it's not been very, well, scary...for three of the last four issues of pravda, we've had some of our local councillors banging on about wind farms being developed that will be sited on top of Ilkley Moor. They present the vision that the Moor will soon be home to a veritable army of white-armed whirling things. The fault, of course, lies with the government, and specifically with Mr Prescott, who has introduced new planning advice that will make it almost impossible for local authorities to stop wind farm developers plonking their machines down anywhere they choose. Anne 'no paseran' Hawkesworth and Audrey 'duhhr...' Brand have combined to fight this menace. These two have, of course, united to defeat this threat, which is obviously totally non-political, unconnected to the forthcoming election campaign and the expected declaration of the Tories at national level against windfarm development. No, it's all about saving our precious moor. And it has to be done quickly, because all responses are due in NOW! (Only they're not, responses were due in to the draft by the end of January so no paseran has already missed the deadline, and is presumably just using this as an excuse to scare people). It's also, of course, complete bollocks. But once again, it demonstrates the lack of acuity shown by the journalists of our local press. At no point have any of them seen fit to search out the relevant planning legislation and check what's actually being said. So, rest assured that the Ilkley Rocks team have. The planning legislation in question, Planning Policy Statement 22, is designed to bring up to date advice to planning officers regarding renewable energy and thus does cover windfarms. The main purpose is to show how Renewable energy developments should be capable of being accommodated throughout England in locations where the technology is viable and environmental and other impacts can be addressed satisfactorily. And, yes, clause 2 suggests Regional planning guidance and development plans should contain policies designed to promote and encourage, rather than restrict, the development of renewable energy resources which is presumably as far as our beloved local councillors read before running off screaming to the Gazette. But PPS22 still leaves in substantial protections: Development proposals should demonstrate any environmental, economic and social benefits as well as how any environmental and social impacts have been minimised through careful consideration of location, scale, design and other measures. Some proposals will be subject to a requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In such circumstances, local authorities and developers should discuss whether consideration of alternative sites is necessary. ...see that? 'Consideration of alternative sites'? ie. if the proposed site is an SSSI or AONB for instance... and then there's... When located in the green belt, many renewable energy projects will comprise at least some degree of inappropriate development, which may impact on the openness or perceived openness of the green belt. Careful consideration will therefore need to be given to the visual impact of projects, and developers will need to demonstrate very special circumstances that clearly outweigh any harm by reason of inappropriateness and any other harm if projects are to proceed. Such very special circumstances may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources. let's read that again...'careful consideration will need to be given to the visual impact of projects.' Hmm, not as straight-forward as our beloved councillors would have it. And then, of course, the Moor is an SSSI. And what, pray, does the statement have to say about SSSIs? In sites with national designations (such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Heritage Coasts) planning permission for renewable energy projects should only be granted where it can be demonstrated that the objectives of designation of the area will not be compromised by the development, and any significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area has been designated are clearly outweighed by the environmental, social and economic benefits. Oh yes, and it's also an SPA (a Special Protection Area). For these the protection is even stronger.. In sites of international importance for nature conservation (Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, and RAMSAR Sites) planning permission should only be granted for renewable energy developments once an assessment has shown that the integrity of the site will not be adversely affected. Many renewable energy developments are likely to have some adverse effects on the integrity of such sites. In these circumstances, planning permission should only be granted where there is no alternative solution and there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature see that? "planning permission should only be granted where there is no alternative solution and there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest"... ie., not on top of Ilkley Moor. It's also clearly stated that PPS22 doesn't cover energy conservation in buildings, the red herring no paseran raises as preferable to wind farms. And, of course, the cup and ring rocks have scheduled monument status which prevents development up to 10m around them--it's going to be a little hard to develop a consistent wind farm up there dodging the rocks! So what's going on? Well, obviously there's the local election coming up, which requires some scare-mongering, and there's nothing that will scare the locals more (excepting perhaps the notion of a centre for asylum-seekers planted on The Grove) than development of the Moor. It'll affect house values you know! And Prescott's an easy target of course. Behind the story is a rather interesting campaign being led by British Nuclear Fuels, as described in t'Grauniad.... BNF funds countryguardian, the main campaigning group against wind farms, something that's made obvious by 'duhhr's otherwise barking comment that she'd prefer more nuclear facilities. What, on top of the moor? Weird... If no paseran is really so concerned about the visual outlook, I presume she'll be joining the Menwith Hill forum? After all, there's a real eyesore. And then there's traditional wind farms which presumably no one is against...
Of course, it only occurred to me the other day what's happening to all the pavement that's been dug up on The Grove. Being good Yorkshire stone slabs, they're disappearing to the gardens of our beloved 'representatives'. Bet machine gun has the nicest path possible now... While we have blindingly bright, still uneven paths that become skating rinks when it rains. It's progress I tells ye...