Thursday, 28 January 2010

Here's where the money is going!

My friend John Aitchison, of Qua Fen Common, Soham, has written another excellent letter, this time to the Ely Weekly News, and, thanks to the good people there, it has been published today. It is similar to one that John sent to the Ely Standard three weeks back and it reads as follows:

"Land is needed to grow food

Sir, Re the Wicken vision, what a waste of highly productive agricultural land.

I feel I can no longer let my frustrations and beliefs go unreported. I have known Geoffrey Woollard well for the best part of 40 years, and I wholeheartedly agree with his efforts to do battle against this unnecessary and short sighted project.

In Farmers Weekly, December 18-25 2009, we read “The growing demand for food around the world has put UK agricultural production back at the heart of the economy and political thinking.”

Also at the Oxford Farming Conference last January, Secretary of Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Hilary Benn said: "I want British agriculture to produce as much food as possible - no ifs, no buts."

The hectarage and yield of crops has got to keep going up and up if we are to keep feeding an ever increasing population. A fuel crisis is also not that far away. Gas and oil supplies will run out eventually and we may well have to grow more and more energy either as bio-mass or as bio-diesel. So why in the light of this thinking can't the Government put a stop to this project dreamt up by the National Trust. This organisation does a superb job of preserving historic buildings, many of which the owners have been forced to vacate. Why therefore is it getting involved in removing land from agricultural production?

The British agricultural industry is one of the most productive in the world but it seems to have the most problems to overcome to be in such a position. Although I would not be directly affected by this project, I have been in and around agriculture, which includes formal training all my life and I am of the opinion we should be as productive as possible, and this project should be stopped forthwith.

W John Aitchison
Qua Fen Common

My 'friend' Ben Gibbs, of Ely, wrote to the Ely Standard two weeks ago with an attempt at a riposte to John Aitchison's earlier contribution.

A further follow-up letter from me is in today's Ely Standard. I have highlighted the National Lottery's having now to pay a larger proportion of the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games and, consequently, having less available for funding such as the so-called 'Wicken Vision.' My letter reads as follows:

"Vision is not essential

Ben Gibbs evidently derives amusement from teasing my friend John Aitchison and I, but I have to advise him that he is missing the point.

Large numbers of people in the area to be affected by the National Trust's Wicken Vision are opposed to it.. Mr Gibbs favours it. But what really counts in this undemocratic debate is not the numbers who oppose it and agree with me or the numbers who agree with Mr Gibbs.

This misconceived and controversial scheme was never going to be decided on a numbers basis. What counts is cash and the funding sources for the Vision are now in big trouble.

The National Lottery is having to pay a larger proportion of the cost of the 2012 Olympic Games and the Government - any Government of any party, now or in the future - is under pressure to keep core services going and to avoid frittering our money on non-essentials. The Wicken Vision was never essential.

Indeed, the opposite is the case, for it is now essential that British farmers produce more British food to feed an ever-growing population. Our Fen farmers work the best land in the country and their production is more and more needed.

Don't take my word for it, Mr Gibbs: take the word of Hilary Benn, the present Defra Secretary, and Nick Herbert, his Conservative counterpart.

Geoffrey Woollard
River Bank
Near Upware."

The link to the Ely Standard letters page is -

- and the picture (above) is of the developing 2012 Olympics site.

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