Letter: Goodbye to Balcombe camp

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According to a recently circulated email, the Balcombe Protector Camp is now packing up after two months spent on the side of our road protesting, raising awareness for our cause, and putting themselves in danger of arrest on our behalf.

I have to say that I amongst many others did not feel particularly protected by the camp. I know of several folk who felt decidedly threatened by the additions to our village, with some older folk unwilling to try the newly refurbished pub as there were often too many protestors in there.The email goes on to request donations for travel expenses to take the ‘protectors’ home. Perhaps fewer visits to the pub at £4.00 a pint would have left them with sufficient funds to return to their abodes?

Whilst I applaud the right to protest (men and women have fought wars on our behalf to maintain this right) I will be pleased to see the end of this camp.I realise of course that our self proclaimed protectors were looking at the bigger picture both nationally and globally but wish they had spared a thought for the environment they were inhabiting.The grass verge along the B2036 is managed by both WSCC and The Balcombe Estate with annual grass cutting in various heights and stages which normally results in an abundance of wild flowers, grasses, shrubs and hedgerow. The width of the verge, the ground flora and the proximity of the shrub zone to woodland make this a valuable habitat for a diversity of invertebrates, small mammals and birds alike. When a colleague was questioned by a ‘protector’ as to why there was no wildlife to be seen, he suggested it could have something to do with the hundred plus tents, people and drums (of course this was the one noise that could be heard over all else once the helicopters were excluded from the equation).Whilst the burning of wood as a renewable energy source should be applauded, I would have preferred that the dead wood left to enrich the woodland environment had not been burned. Again this is a valuable habitat for insects which naturally attract birds. It has also been suggested that the fungi that grow on rotting wood may help maintain a healthy balance in woodlands and mitigate the effects of some of the diseases our woodlands are currently threatened by. I’m sure that our ‘protectors’ were using eco friendly washing products as they tipped their dirty water

down the storm drains which feed directly into the streams running through the nearby woodlands or when bathing in our Lake and Reservoir.Anyway, they are off home now for a well earned rest, or on to other protests. I genuinely wish them a safe and speedy onward journey whilst we will remain and continue to manage the local countryside, maintaining our area of outstanding natural beauty at grass roots level.

Jamie Kirkman

Head Forester Balcombe Estate