Our Patch: Save Whiston’s Greenbelt
I come to my computer with my heart still pounding, struggling to regulate my breath after witnessing an amazing life or death situation happen in our patch.
I was walking on the fields behind Foxshaw Close and, as it’s such a beautiful morning, had taken my time and enjoyed watching a buzzard lazily soaring overhead. I had laughed out loud (no one was listening) as several crows began mobbing it and were lucky not to become breakfast themselves.
I heard a commotion and saw a goldfinch being chased by a Sparrowhawk. The Red Arrows display team had nothing on the twirling and looping the little bird performed, matched exactly by the larger raptor until, after 20 seconds or so, the Goldfinch escaped.
The Sparrowhawk flew on a thermal and took over where the buzzard had left off being the target of the rowdy crows.
This magical encounter should have made me gleefully happy, but instead, it made me realise just how much we have to lose. This area, along with many swathes of greenbelt, is under threat of development.
I make no apology for my lack of lyricism this week… I am on my soapbox, and I extend my hand to you to join me and help this cause, which is so dear to my heart.
Knowsley Council are under instruction from the government to create 1,503 more homes in the area, and alas, these are planned to be built on the green fields, sacred resting places and woodland which are an intrinsic part of the landscape, and the semi-rural culture of this beautiful area we live in.
We need to stand up and say NO!
We sit between the bustling metropoles of Manchester and Liverpool, both with cultural and natural attractions of their own, but we don’t belong to either, maintaining our own identity in the current trend of all towns gradually becoming carbon copies of each other.
Notwithstanding that, the very structure of our town would be forced to change in many ways (Where would these additional residents be schooled or treated for illness and injury? How would our roads cope with an increase of vehicles in a town already nestled between two major motorways?). Our green spaces – parks, scrublands and waterways – are a part of who we are, and an important habitat for the many species who live here alongside us.
It is inconceivable for me to consider living in a place where I can’t just easily access a park, or a woodland, or just a field to let the children run or ferret around in. It’s one of the reasons I moved here in the first place, and I know it’s the same for many others.
It’s vital for our children’s education that they understand how we fit into our environment, and in a country where obesity levels are the highest in Europe, it seems so short-sighted and ignorant to take that outdoor space away from them.
One of my greatest concerns is for loss of breeding sites for our birds. We are incredibly lucky to provide nesting spaces for some of the species which are in danger of extinction in this green land of ours.
I have seen both Grey Partridge and Skylarks nesting here. Both of these birds were once considered common, but due to development (such as the proposed one here) their nest sites have gone and they are declining alarmingly – it’s unthinkable for my children to grow up without knowing them at all.
The public consultation process has begun. The plans are available for your perusal (online here and in all Knowsley’s One Stop Shops and libraries until 14 November), and the scheduled meetings have begun (see the earlier Prescot Online article). There is a Facebook group, Save Whiston’s Greenbelt, and the consultation meetings are in full swing.
Please let your voice be heard – we can make a difference and save our greatest natural resource.
SJ, also known as Sarah and Sarah-Jane, held her dream job as a breastfeeding peer support worker until becoming a full-time mum of three. She still volunteers at Whiston Hospital.
In her spare time, SJ loves to read, and play cello with the Knowsley Youth Orchestra. She confesses to being a secret singer ever since hubby Trev bought her SingStar.