I have just fired off a letter to local magazine editors reporting on a meeting held last week. It's self-explanatory.
The Joint Neighbourhood Panels Wicken Vision 'Update' meeting at Bottisham Village College was, as predicted, yet another indoctrination exercise by the National Trust. There were exhibitions and presentations from the Trust and from organisations who favoured the Trust. The few who take a mildly contrarian line - the District Council, the National Farmers' Union - barely got a look-in and the 'bulk of the meeting,' planned for questions and answers, was not 'the bulk' after all as time became too short.
A friend of mine wrote afterwards, 'What a lot of busybodies waffling nonsense!' He was not far off the mark. However, a few points came up that are worth reporting.
For the first time in my presence, a National Trust officer admitted that the area of our Fens to be 're-wetted' or flooded is 3,000 to 4,000 acres. This, of course, is the lower-lying land which happens also to be the very best and most peat-rich. The Trust seems to be good at growing ragwort, stinging nettles and thistles on land that it already controls. I agree with the NFU that farming matters in the Fens. I also assert that with our population growing exponentially, our best food-producing land ought not to be lost, either to water or to weeds.
Some of us discussed increased access by the public to the Fens. That is fine in theory and usually fine in practice - viz., the Fen Rivers Way public footpath that passes within yards of my back door. Increased access will be less fine if it means motor cycles, etc., coming out from Cambridge to roar along the old railway track through the Quy Estate that the Trust is so keen to acquire. It will also be less fine for the Fen-edge villages that will have to cope with extra car parking. Lode, in particular, is already much troubled by cars.
Flies and mosquitoes - very much a live issue - were also alluded to. Mr and Mrs Moxon of Swaffham Bulbeck brought to the meeting recently caught specimens of the latter. One of the National Trust's experts asserted that Malaria is not a disease of mosquitoes but of man. Mosquitoes are the carriers. But what the experts seem to forget is that it isn't all that long ago that Malaria (or 'Fen Ague') was endemic and that Oliver Cromwell, a Fenman who became 'Our Chief of Men,' is thought to have died of this dread disease.
In my opinion, the so-called 'Wicken Vision' is supported by people with overweening arrogance, too much Government and National Lottery money and a severe shortage of common sense.
Note: the attached picture is of Oliver Cromwell, 'Our Chief Of Men.'