March 4th 2017 - it was a night of two halves.
The usual delaying of going to bed, the tactic used to reduce the time lying awake; hoping to drop quickly off to sleep, rather than listen to the piercing, oscillating invasion of my bedroom from the ‘THING’ built in our idyllic, rural village surrounded by ancient, and I mean ancient woodland, home to bats, badgers, Great Crested Newts, Barn Owls – all the protected species th...at have been protected here for ever.
I tried to read my book, progressing at snail’s pace onto a new line – fighting to try and discipline my brain to ignore the head-piercing sounds. It’s no good. I jot down the time, 12.30am, knowing that I will need to report the sound in the morning. The list is usually added to during the night – all the times I am disturbed.
One huge sigh, light turned off, duvet dragged up over my ears and the mind forced to try and focus on the pleasures of the day that’s gone. It’s still no good; side draw opened and the hated earplugs removed and used to isolate me from my natural environment.
And then this morning – it happened! The ‘THING’ had gone quiet, maybe, just maybe it had broken down? I lay happily listening to the dawn chorus of birds claiming their territories and singing heartily to their mates, the sounds of the woodpecker in the distance, the doves gently cooing, songbirds high in trees. Layer upon layer of sounds, a natural world awakening. I listened intently, aware of the rarity of the occasion since the arrival and unauthorised growth of the ‘THING’.
The fury wells up inside me again. An Industrial facility, one of the largest of its kind in Britain, run without many checks and measures, which has polluted our villages repeatedly, caused chaos on our lanes – and which just arrived in our midst without consent, out of the blue at Crouchland Farm. The last four years spin in my head. But I settle eventually with the thoughts of CS Lewis; that the human race is haunted by the idea of a type of behaviour which we might call fair play, or decency or morality – and I put my faith in the Planning Inspector to share the views of us, the residents, the Councils (Parish, District and County) and to agree with the inner belief that the ‘THING’ is just in the wrong place. CS Lewis suggests that even the Farmer/ applicant can sense this – but will still desperately try to submit new documents to get around the obstacles and to confuse. Some of the many staff that have resigned or have been pushed, have categorically stated that they feel the plant should be closed – they just ‘know’ it’s wrong.
We are nearing the end of this incredible journey, with the Planning Inquiry at the end of next month. Yes, as CS Lewis said, we have been ‘haunted’ by the need to stand up against what we believe is fundamentally wrong.
Our Parishes couldn’t have tried harder.