Last Sunday I attended two events in our local green lung, the Mersey Valley. The first was a walk organised by the 'Friends of Chorlton Meadows (FOCM)' (see blog) which looked at the different species of bee which can be found in the area, with a local bee expert, Brian Robinson. I have to say that I hadn't realised there were so many different species of bumble bee in Britain alone, and also that there is still so much for us to learn about their role in the eco-system.
Bees have been in the news a lot recently and not for the right reason. The honey bee has been hit very badly by a disease called Colony Collapse Disorder, whilst in recent decades many species of bumble bee have gone into decline or even disappeared from this country as habitat has been lost.
The role of bees in the pollination of plants cannot be overestimated. Whilst larger species in danger of extinction such as the polar bear and the tiger get the publicity, the loss of the humble bee would have a far greater impact on our lives.
2010 if of course the Year of Biodiversity, and this was one of a series of walks highlighting the variety of different types of flora and fauna in this part of the Mersey Valley. FOCM Chair Dave Bishop stated that he was struck by the degree of biodiversity across the range in this small area of South Manchester. All the more reason for valuing and safeguarding this vital green lung, which brings me on to the second event.
The Save Chorlton Meadows campaign (not to be confused with FOCM) came into being last year when a plan was proposed to convert the Meadows at Hardy Farm into football pitches including floodlighting. Whilst that plan was defeated, an application has just been put in for floodlighting and other changes at the existing pitch on the edge of the meadows. Smaller scale it may be, but the floodlighting and increased capacity will still have an adverse effect on both wildlife and local residents, and the Campaign is fighting it with as much vigour as the earlier application.
Good to see the defence of our valley against the rampant god of football. It will be interesting to see if it can be defended against another local god – the Metrolink. A planned future route of the light-rail system takes it straight across this part of the Mersey Valley. This particular development has not yet secured funding, so would be some time in the future but it is definitely time to challenge the route.
One of the arguments put forward for Metrolink is that it will take cars of the road, in which case I have long felt that the lines should be run on current roadspace, and not on existing rail-lines or greenbelt. I was pleased to hear local MP John Leech, state the same opinion, and I think the newly-radicalised campaigners of Chorlton and Chorlton Park may have plenty to say when the impact of the Metrolink on this area becomes clear.. Especially those who have witnessed the line being driven though other parts of the area, such as the cutting between Wilbraham Road and the Fallowfield Loop cycleway, a matter of yards from my house.
The aforementioned Dave Bishop has plenty to say on the matter here