BBOWT: a change of heart?

As you know, BEAG has opposed both the Expressway and plans to construct one million houses along its route right from the beginning. During our campaign, we were pleased to have the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) as one of our allies, and we cheered them on when they challenged the Expressway in court.

In June last year, BBOWT collaborated with BEAG to make a short film explaining the massive harm both the Expressway and one million houses would inflict on wildlife. In that film, a spokesman for BBOWT said that the Expressway and one million houses would inflict untold damage on wildlife. Referring to biodiversity offsetting, much touted by developers as a way to protect, and even enhance nature, he expressed serious concerns that there is no scientific evidence that it works.

Since then, BBOWT appears to have had a change of heart, not about the Expressway, it seems, but about the million houses. Today, BBOWT announced that the development of one million houses – the so-called Oxford to Cambridge Arc – actually presents an opportunity to protect and restore nature. Working with the Woodland Trust and the RSPB, they have produced a “blueprint” for how this can apparently be achieved.

BEAG has been in contact with environmental journalist and writer, George Monbiot, who is as puzzled and dismayed about this as we are. We have pointed out to him that Tony Juniper (Chair of Natural England) shares BBOWT’s previously expressed view that the science on offsetting isn’t there (shown in this screenshot of an exchange between Tony Juniper and BEAG).

George Monbiot has undertaken to pursue the matter and has said he will let us know how it goes.

We will update you again as soon as we have news.