TV naturalist Chris Packham denounces Derby cycle track plans as a "wanton act of vandalism"

Springwatch presenter enters ongoing row between nature lovers and Derby Council over Pride Park cycle track

by Elliot Johnston   January 21, 2014  

Pride Park Velodrome - next door to The Sanctuary reserve

TV presenter Chris Packham has joined wildlife groups in the ongoing protest over plans for an extended cycle track through The Sanctuary Bird Reserve in Derby.

The television personality said that losing or destroying the wildlife reserve “would mark a vile act of wanton vandalism” dubbing the reserve a “treasure”.

The plans for the cycle track, which is to be part of Derby’s new £27m Pride Park Velodrome development, have yet to be finalised following a series of objections by a coalition of 15 of Derbyshire's wildlife groups including: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Ornithological Society, the local RSPB group and Derby Natural History Society. 

As we reported in November redrawn plans for the cycle path which reroute the track along two sides of The Sanctuary, rather than through it continue to be opposed by wildlife groups.

Tim Burch, conservation manager for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said the Trust will continue to oppose the cycle track as a matter of principle.

“It still sets a dangerous precedent where a council that set up a nature reserve is now planning to potentially destroy 20% of it," 

A photo on the Hands Off The Sanctuary Bird Reserve at Pride Park, Derby Facebook page, demonstrates the coalition's fears for the reserve. Showing a map of the plans, the page claims that following development the 4.5 hectares of wildlife reserve there currently will be reduced to 1.6ha.

Packham told the Derby Telegraph that the wildlife reserve is a highly important piece of protected land and that it needs to stay that way - highlighting the relative shortsightedness of the cycle track project.

Packham said: “The Sanctuary needs to remain secure as an invaluable and important reserve for nature.

“Not ‘any old nature’ but a unique assemblage of plants and animals many of which are nationally endangered.

“It is an oasis of wildlife that is accessible to many and it cannot simply be removed and replaced.

“It is a treasure and short-sighted and short tendencies like this should not be allowed to destroy it.

“It is a natural reserve, a designated scrap of England which has been recognised as worthy of consent.

“That does not suddenly evaporate just because someone has a new idea.

“Its loss would mark a vile act of wanton vandalism and who would want that on their conscience?”

The wildlife groups’ opposition to the plans will have taken a boost with the support of Peckham, and the Derby wildlife coalition are quick to point out that their reasons for opposing the plans are not directed specifically at cyclists.

Nick Moyes, from the coalition, said: “We do not want to be in conflict with cyclists but people maybe do not realise this is a unique bird reserve that would be destroyed should the council give planning consent.

“There is land at Moorways which would be far better for a cycling development, cost less money and be less work.

“We are delighted to have someone of Chris’s stature supporting us. He certainly hasn’t held back in his words.”

25 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I was expecting to read... "i'm not anti cycling, I knew a cyclist once"

posted by jason.timothy.jones [288 posts]
21st January 2014 - 16:38

like this
Like (11)

Fair enough. Cycle path doesn't have to trump all other considerations unless it was to avoid some sort of road of hell. Even then use this as a reason to put in infrastructure there.

NB: I've not seen the plans.

posted by Cranky Acid [34 posts]
21st January 2014 - 16:43

like this
Like (30)

If it's a wildlife sanctuary, it's a wildlife sanctuary. Kinda agree that it's purpose and usage shouldn't be altered arbitrarily.

All cyclists who agree should mount an immediate protest ride ...

nostromo's picture

posted by nostromo [65 posts]
21st January 2014 - 17:18

like this
Like (21)

Bit puzzled how a cycle track can destroy 20% of 4.5 hectares, but that may be beside the point.
Cycling and conservation ought to be allies not opponents.

posted by JonSP [48 posts]
21st January 2014 - 17:24

like this
Like (14)

I think he's got a point - if this is protected land, why is the council seeking to remove that protection? I've had a look at the site, and there is a large amount of what looks like brownfield space, ready for re-use - why not use that rather than impinging on the LNR?

adamthekiwi's picture

posted by adamthekiwi [36 posts]
21st January 2014 - 17:31

like this
Like (25)

A real "wanton act of vandalism" is motorways etc which have probably been built through nature areas - surely he would oppose these since they cause far more harm than a cycle track...

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
21st January 2014 - 18:13

like this
Like (16)

JonSP wrote:
Bit puzzled how a cycle track can destroy 20% of 4.5 hectares, but that may be beside the point.
Cycling and conservation ought to be allies not opponents.

I like cycling paths and think we should have more of them. But the point of a wildlfe sanctuary is that is a sanctuary where wildlfe can get on with it without interruption from people. People walking and cycling through means it isn't a sanctuary. So yes he has a point. That's apart from the construction process.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [496 posts]
21st January 2014 - 18:32

like this
Like (19)

Plans

https://eplanning.derby.gov.uk/acolnet/DocumentsOnline/documents/73632_2...

The track was re-designed from the original design as a compromise to the nature reserve.

There has been lots of nonsense reported by the "twitchers" such as that there was no need for a circuit due to the recent cyclo-cross event confirming that we already had a circuit in the city.

This wildlife sanctuary was a former waste site it is not the only place in the city for wildlife. We seem to be being seen as bird killing dictators, rather than a group of people trying to ensure that the velodrome gets used by people from Derby for many years to come.

posted by Themogulman [1 posts]
21st January 2014 - 18:49

like this
Like (18)

"A wanton act of vandalism"

Has he seen the HS2 plans?

My brain takes on routes my lungs & legs can't deliver.

matheson's picture

posted by matheson [12 posts]
21st January 2014 - 20:05

like this
Like (8)

matheson wrote:
"A wanton act of vandalism"

Has he seen the HS2 plans?

He probably has but does it mean he cant object to this as well ?

As far as i'm concerned the council should steer clear of the sanctuary and build the path somewhere else. We have enough greenery destroyed by housing, roads and out of town shopping / industrial estates as it is.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2644 posts]
21st January 2014 - 20:46

like this
Like (15)

The television personality said that losing or destroying the wildlife reserve “would maWk a vile act of wanton vandalism” dubbing the reserve a “tWeasure”...

posted by sq225917 [18 posts]
21st January 2014 - 20:57

like this
Like (5)

Packham is getting a bit Oddie in his old age, or even worst, Bellamy.

Between the S and the LOW

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1161 posts]
21st January 2014 - 22:24

like this
Like (5)

If Packham is against it, it is probably the right thing to do.

Grizzerly

posted by Grizzerly [113 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 8:38

like this
Like (5)

Grizzerly wrote:
If Packham is against it, it is probably the right thing to do.

LOL.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 9:13

like this
Like (4)

I would tend to agree with him. His stance is not 'anti-cyclist' but 'anti-poorly-thought-out-council-planning', which is no bad thing.
Just because something is cycling related doesn't necessarily make it a good idea, look at that shambles in Weston-super-Mare that was in the news recently.

posted by numbercruncher [28 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 9:56

like this
Like (8)

I agree with him based on this piece.

There is plenty of urban land that can be regenerated into sporting venues without taking a nature reserve.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1206 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:13

like this
Like (10)

sq225917 wrote:
The television personality said that losing or destroying the wildlife reserve “would maWk a vile act of wanton vandalism” dubbing the reserve a “tWeasure”...

?

posted by wwfcb [63 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 10:50

like this
Like (11)

Those that are familiar with the area know that this ‘sanctuary’ is used as a toxic waste dump, an area that is waste land, not managed or maintained in any way and so used for the disposal of rubbish and a resting place for vagrants.

The protest has been lead by a faceless identity on twitter and facebook, someone that clearly has nothing other to do with their time tweeted literally hundreds of times in matter of days inciting panic amongst anyone with a passing interest in nature. If the cycle track is not permitted I hope the twitchers keep this piece of land in a better manner.

posted by Cycle girly [2 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 11:30

like this
Like (5)

I frequently ride through the site of the RSPB's HQ in Sandy in Bedfordshire (on the designated path) with no issues.

I believe they know a thing or two about conservation.

Is this proposed cycleway in Derby supposed to be just a waymarked trail or a kiddie and wheelchair friendly 'greenway' style constructed path?

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 11:48

like this
Like (7)

Unfortunately this article is very unclear on the purpose of the track, but the facebook photo linked in the text seems to shed a little light on the purpose and how it takes up so much of the reserve.

This seems to be a race course. Slopes are marked, and it follows a tight loop. I don't see how it can be of any use to get from a to b or even to enjoy a leisure ride around the reserve (which appears to surround a "toxic waste facility" anyway, lovely).

As such it seems to me completely unreasonable for the council to move the goal posts for a sports facility wich will only benefit the few.

posted by pmanc [112 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:29

like this
Like (6)

Seems perfectly possible that its a bad idea. I don't see any reason to automatically support the cycle track proposal. If its not taking space from motorists there's probably something wrong with it!

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [618 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 13:59

like this
Like (4)

There's some confusion here, because there is a local cycle track that runs along the river - right past the land where this this new development is planned. My understanding is this development is for a kind of dirt racing track suitable for cyclocross or mountain biking - to compliment the velodrome. We already have a BMX track a bit further down the river. I use the cycle track to get to my office and as I sit here at my desk I can watch the velodrome being constructed. Personally, I'd rather they didn't destroy the nature reserve - there seems to be a lot of land on the other side of the river that's isn't being used except for the folks who sneak on there with their dirt-bikes.

posted by LinusLarrabee [31 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 17:49

like this
Like (5)

Eastway was an example of a cycle circuit in the middle of a nature reserve. All worked fine, in fact the River Lea that ran through it had an amazing variety of bird life. Thing is that most of the time, the circuit is not being used so it's quiet.

Obviously Eastway no longer exists, it's got an Olympic Park built on top of it...

What they're proposing at Derby is a tarmac cycle racing circuit round the outside edge of the reserve along with various bits of maintenance work like removing Japanese Knotweed. Realistically, once it's done I'd imagine it'll have zero effect on the reserve itself (beyond the necessary short term disruption while they build it). It just depends of course on how the circuit is routed through/around the area.

posted by crazy-legs [477 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 18:33

like this
Like (4)

Packham uses his position within the BBC to promote his bizarre ideas.

This is the man who believes no urban fox has ever attacked a human and people should be taxed for having children.

posted by festival [101 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 18:35

like this
Like (6)

festival wrote:
Packham uses his position within the BBC to promote his bizarre ideas.

This is the man who believes no urban fox has ever attacked a human and people should be taxed for having children.

Whilst I have little knowledge of foxes, urban or otherwise, I am strangely attracted to the idea of a child tax. After all, there seems to be no shortage of kids and they are, by and large, noisy and ill-mannered.

Mike

mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [114 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 19:00

like this
Like (10)