There is a very interesting cameo currently being played out in the planning offices of southern Hampshire that may have a profound impact on new housing across all of Britain. Because for the moment, in response to a legal challenge, all planning applications for new homes across eleven local authorities have been suspended. Such is the impact that Fareham Council have even cancelled their June planning committee meeting with nothing to discuss. This is the story so far.
The Solent looking towards Porchester Castle. Photo by Ian Wright.
In the light of two European Court rulings in 2018 Natural England advised councils that allowing treated sewage to be discharged into the Solent (the 20 mile strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England) was no longer permitted if it emanated from newly built homes. As a result "planning permission should not be granted" for new homes unless the developments were "nitrate neutral".
Now I've been unable to discover exactly what nitrate neutral means in a practical sense, but it has been enough to send all the major housebuilders into a flurry of PR activity with nobody appearing to have a simple nor quick solution beyond further legal challenge. The essence of the problem is that nitrogen in wastewater is accelerating green algae growth in protected areas of the Solent putting the fish, wildlife and the entire food chain at risk as the algae chokes off all other life. And that is before we've even mentioned human health issues.
It won't have escaped your notice that rivers are, more often than not, the conduits through which the polluted water reaches the sea so we do have more than a vested interest in the outcome of the current impasse even though nitrates are second behind our number one enemy, phosphates. Between those two, plus some others, there is a cocktail of chemicals polluting our rivers by over-enriching the water that stimulates the unnatural growth of opportunistic plants such as blanket weed that have a similar effect on rivers to that of algae in the sea.
My hope is that if the case against nitrates is upheld then phosphates will follow. However, the worry has to be that house builders get around the nitrate ruling by arguing that new houses built on agricultural land represent no net increase in nitrates, farming being a greater culprit in this respect. So, we could have the absurd situation that green field sites receive planning consent whilst brown field sites don't.
At this point I think it is very much a case of watch this space as for now the news doesn't seem to have filtered into the wider national media.
Last Sunday we had a great day here at Nether Wallop Mill hosting nine girls from Hanford School in Dorset; wildly enthusiastic barely covers their huge delight of all things fly fishing.
I'd like to think it was all about us, but I suspect they were also demob happy, in their final few weeks of their final term, safe in the knowledge that their future in respect of their next school (they were all thirteen) was mapped out.
For reasons I couldn't exactly discern every fish caught was given a name. As they laid them out on the grass with great ceremony, they gave each a name, calling out each I turn: Tom, Dick, Harry, George .... in the end I was forced to ask why they had all been given male names. 'Oh,' they said, 'That's simple. Only a man would be stupid enough to take a fly.'
The Spice Girls have a lot to answer for.
Kids Summer Camp
I am pleased to say we will be running the Summer Fish Camp in July for what must be the third or fourth year.
It is based here at Nether Wallop Mill with forays out to the chalkstreams. It runs from a Monday to a Thursday covering casting, catching, gutting, fly tying, rivercraft, entomology and much more. It is all based outside led by our excellent instructor/guide Steve Batten with some help from me.
All the tackle is provided; just add your 12-15 year olds. July 22-25. £250 for the four days or £75/day with a minimum of two days including the first day. No previous experience required. Call 01264 781988 or email email@example.com.
Celebrating death with a living act in an increasingly non-secular society is forever pushing the boundaries; what would once would have seemed sacrilegious is now a perfectly normal an act of remembrance. And rivers, the places that chime of many happy times, often seem appropriate.
A regular client once confessed to me that he sneaked on to Keepers Bridge early one morning at Bullington Manor to spread his father's ashes on the water, the last place they had fished together. The trouble was he wasn't quite early enough, caught in the act with an upturned urn by a rather bemused river keeper.
In a similar fashion my boat mate at the One Fly in Wyoming produced a test tube containing a portion of a former team mate; it was rather touching as the slick of ash slid away on the current slowly breaking and dispersing as his friend went down river for one last time. I think that was infinitely more appropriate than the group of carp fishers who a couple of years back incorporated the ashes of their late friend in bait balls.
I tell you all this because even in death the entrepreneurial spirit lives. I was sent a copy of the US magazine Gray's Sporting Journal that carries a rather beautiful photo story of a visit to our chalkstreams; read that here. But leafing through I came across an advert for www.rounds2remember.comIn essence you send the company the ashes of your dog to be incorporated into hand loaded shotgun cartridges for one last shooting trip together. In its own way it is both bizarre and strangely appropriate.
Back to the more normal random selection of questions, with little theme beyond the topics in this Newsletter. As ever, it is just for fun, with answers at the bottom of the page.
1)How long is the coastline of the main island of Great Britain?
2)How many of the 48 English counties are landlocked?
3)How many music albums did The Spice Girls (1994-2000) release?