Carola Godman Irvine. Farmer, Campaigner & Columnist. 28-04-21

  • Written by Carola Godman Irvine
  • Posted on Apr 28, 2021
  • Articles

It was not that long ago that we were desperate for the rain to stop! Now we would be more than grateful if it would resume - proportionately! The crops are parched and like the grass, not growing.

I collected young cattle last week from local farms which we turned out onto what should be lush spring grass. In reality there is little of that, so we will be moving them fairly regularly from field to field, just to keep them happy.

There is a pattern emerging with little or no April showers year on year. In 2020 the spring was hot and dry, now it’s cold and dry. Which is preferable but I am not entirely sure, but if this is the future we need increase our acreage of grass, thus ensuring we make enough hay to fill the barns.

The debate rumbles on as to whether this trend is due to ‘manmade’ climate change, or a natural occurrence. We should not lose sight of the fact that there were similar weather patterns long before the ‘industrial revolution’ and mid-20th Century increase of greenhouse gases.

It is interesting that the ‘environmental group’ Extinction Rebellion (XR), are no longer content to disrupt city centres with their climate protests: closing down central London over five days in 2020, and spraying graffiti and smashing windows at the Shell building in 2019.

I am curious as to why they have turned their attention on the countryside with activists stating that, “Most of England is being ‘criminally misused’.

Last Saturday XR invited every citizen of the UK to ‘trespass in the countryside on private land, farms and estates, wherever and however they could’.

The aim was apparently to, “Remember our radical roots and reclaim our most fundamental rights: to walk, to wander, to live". The demonstration on the 89th Anniversary of the Kinder Scout trespass, aimed to highlight the ‘injustice of exclusive land ownership’.

‘Activists’ from across Dorset, included Extinction Rebellion, Weymouth Animal Rights, North Dorset Hunt Saboteurs and Dorset Against Blood sports, took part in a mass trespass on Tory MP Richard Drax’s land.

What XR has against Mr Drax and other farmers who produce the food, which members of XR presumably eat, whilst taking care of the countryside and protecting wildlife, is beyond me. However, no doubt the superior intellect of the Greta Thunbergs’ of this world, will explain the reasoning for their behaviour.

Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance said: “In England and Wales there are 140,000 miles of rights of way as well as hundreds of thousands of open access land for people to use. Rules around access are there for a reason, not least to protect crops and livestock”.

It seems XR are getting themselves in a pickle and certainly sending out mixed messages. Surely if so keen on the environment they would appreciate that a mass invasion of the countryside at this time of year when it is at its most fragile, just as the wildlife is getting ready to reproduce, is not wise.

Surely Greta, their team leader, knows the danger of disturbing the flora and fauna, including ground nesting birds such as grey partridges, lapwings and skylarks.  XR and Co will crush and destroy as they trample over delicate hidden nests.

As Richard Negus, hedgelayer and Shooting Times contributor said, ‘It is the height of hypocrisy that XR say they are caring for the environment when their actions are doing harm. They are not worthy of the title environmentalists.’

These are the same people who held up packed trains in October 2019, although trains are one of the ‘greenest’ forms of transport. Their action provoked angry protests from frustrated commuters resulting in XR losing much public support.

We should be asking: ‘What exactly do these people want’?

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