Chalk Pit Viewing Bench Disappears
A bench that afforded a view over the Houghton Regis Chalk Pit "went a couple of weeks ago" according to a report last week.
Alan Winter commented on Facebook, "Sorry to report that the bench that has overlooked the Houghton Regis Chalk Pit for years has been removed in recent weeks. Why or by whom I don't know.
Add to that the burnt out scooter, the trashed bicycle frame by the larger of the 2 marl lakes, plus lots of discarded BBQ paraphernalia left by litter louts, not forgetting several misplaced shopping trolleys. And have I mentioned the broken kissing gate hinge at the southern pedestrian entrance?
Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with people that can't enjoy the simple beauty of the place without trashing it. This news update will disappoint many that have helped to make this SSSI such an amazing place over the years."
Wioleta K'z commented, "It disappeared 2-3 weeks ago! Was thinking to get a bench from charity to replace it because it’s wonderful viewing point, nice place to relax ... we get plenty of teenagers having bbqs, open fire, drinking , smoking weed, devastating trees , leaving trash behind etc over thereOh! Let’s not forget underage noisy bikers cutting every padlock that appeared on a gate, even 8-10year old boys were opening it without any trouble!
It is truly wonderful area, shame not cared much. I can see every day, When walking my dog, another damage 🤬 police - haven’t got time too busy, council doing nothing either ....rant over."
Danielle Johnson wrote, "We went for a walk over there last night. Cldnt believe it had gone!! 😡
Always used to sit and have a look. Such a shame!!"
Neil Fearn wrote, "Was a good view from up there."
Stephanie King, "That's such a shame. I did ask the previous warden (when it was looked after by the wildlife trust) if a couple of benches could be put in the quarry and her answer was no because they would only get vandalised/set on fire. A few ruin it for the many once again."
Andrew Kucharz, "Unfortunately we are leaving in such an area where some people don't know how to behave and have no respect for others, let alone about nature."
The privately owned site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest*, and until recently was managed by Wildlife Trusts BCN. But finance to Wildlife Trusts, supplied by Bovis, the developers of Tilia Park (Lake View and tributary roads), ran out after five years.
A new funding stream is urgently needed to continue management of the site and to keep the littering and wanton vandalism under control. New funding is hoped to be coming from developments at HRN2. The Section 106 agreement signed by the HRN2 developers (and available on the CBC planning website) includes staged contribution towards the management of the Chalk Pit but the trigger point for the first payment is not until the 125th house is completed, and building has yet to start. Beyond the building plans, finance to maintain it are still unresolved.
A rubbish clearance took place in 2012 supported by many people from the local Wildlife Trusts and local community. At that time management of the site was only just beginning to tackle 40 years of neglect. Litter-picking does continue, but only by a few volunteers on a personal basis.
Wikipedia: Local planning authorities are required to have policies in their development plans which protect SSSIs. They are then required to consult the appropriate conservation body over planning applications which might affect the interest of an SSSI (such a development might not be within or even close to the SSSI itself). The effect of this is to prevent development which harms the interest – except where the value of that interest is over-ridden by some more important factor, for example, a requirement for a major road or port or oil pipe. The requirement for consultation covers any development which might affect the interest, not just developments within the SSSI itself – for example, a development a long way upstream of a wetland SSSI might require consultation. Note that some developments might be neutral or beneficial, even if they are within the SSSI itself – the critical point is whether they harm the interest features.
* Wikipedia: 'A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Great Britain or an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) in the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man. SSSI/ASSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in the United Kingdom are based upon them, including national nature reserves, Ramsar sites, Special Protection Areas, and Special Areas of Conservation. The acronym "SSSI" is often pronounced "triple-S I".'
All Photographs ©Alan D Winter.
THE HOUGHTON REGIS CHALK PIT IN PICTURES
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