Short term and short sighted – Liz Truss’ changes to planning laws

Ah, the irony. In tomorrow’s mini-budget, new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will reportedly hold good on Liz Truss’s leadership bid promise and rip up the planning rules that block building on green belt land. We can’t say we weren’t warned. Liz Truss was clear about her plans to remove what she sees as pesky rules covering wildlife like bats and newts, and the preservation of green spaces, in the name of greater industrial growth and house building. Not for her the

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One simple thing you can do to help nature survive

hedgehogs need your help

As the drought extends in the south of Britain, give a thought to all of our wildlife – from bees to birds and all points in between – who cannot simply turn on a tap and get a drink when they need it. As honeydew and nectar dry up on our trees and flowers, and natural ponds bake into concrete, much of our wildlife is struggling. But there is something that you can do to help. Now is the time

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In the land of dragons, a new contender

male lesser emperor dragonfly

I recently returned from Scotland, having fulfilled a five-year quest to photograph all of Britain’s native breeding butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Despite some truly atrocious weather I brought back the precious final pictures of the elusive northern species – the northern damselfly, the northern emerald dragonfly and the azure hawker dragonfly. I also brought back a bad case of Covid-19, which, being a generous type, I promptly gave to my wife. As you can imagine, nipping off for a private

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Not just a silent spring, but a colourless summer

all the butterflies

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote her classic book ‘Silent Spring’. In it, she described the impact of the pesticide DDT, which was killing wildlife throughout the food chain, but especially silencing the birds whose song she heard every spring. The book caused enough shock that DDT was eventually banned almost everywhere. But Rachel lived in more innocent times. Since the 1960’s, things that were once unthinkable are now routine, and every time we think nothing could get worse, we are proven

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The case of the twitching leaf

fox cub

The leaf twitches. There are plenty of moving leaves in this thicket just a few yards from my home. A dense jungle of ivy and bramble, cow parsley, willowherb and fallen branches that adorns the bases of some tall ash trees, it’s alive with movement from a gusting breeze that is moving occasional teased-out-cotton clouds above me and bringing the temperature down from hot to mild. The flat white flower heads of the cow parsley jiggle, the ivy leaves flutter.

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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Not my words, and in early example of how easily truth can become distorted, nobody really knows who invented them. But they ring as true today as ever. I try to stay out of politics, but I can’t stay out of humanity. Our generation has a lot to answer for: global warming. Plastic pollution. Knight Rider and people eating kangaroo testicles as entertainment. But the one judgement that will be written about long after we are all dead is that

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