Many people who live on, near, use or visit the HelfordRiver area have approached us with their concerns. They cannot understand why for example taxpayer money continues to be given to a project which has resulted in environmental damage – to Port Navas Quay and to the river bed Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the HelfordRiver ?Why too have Kerrier Council (now Cornwall Council - West 2) failed to take Enforcement Action(for years)over various threats to the environment – even worse, why have local councillors failed to hold Kerrier (now Cornwall Council - West 2) officials to account for the failings ?
We need the people who love the HelfordRiverand who wantto preserve it for future generations to write to those who canprotect it. The greatest threat to the area is APATHY. Hoping that someone else will do something !Those of us who visit, live by, sail on, or who have a concern for the environment do not want the HelfordRiver to suffer further !Damage is occurring and it will be irreversible unless we take a stand.
It is easy to email most of those involved with your views. We have provided traditional addresses where emails are non existent or not available. Please email those at the top – they are all well aware of the issues. We would appreciate being copied on any emails –email@example.com allows us to understand your views and to improve our approach.
Please look also at www.cprecornwall.org.ukThe Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has branches on a county by county basis across England. The Cornwall Branch is taking a keen interest in threats to the HelfordRiver as well as threats to the environment of Cornwall’s towns and countryside – from wind farms and sewage plants to new towns and incinerators. All is not well in Cornwall – as developers, central government and Councils try to impose examples of awfulness on this beautiful County. CPRE Cornwall is keen to attract additional members. Please email the Secretary of CPRE Cornwall, Ted Venn,firstname.lastname@example.org 01326 281435.
Questions for the Duchy of Cornwall
a. Why, given the Duchy of Cornwall’s belief in the environment has the Duchy alloweddamage to the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Tremerlin Cove on the HelfordRiver, as alleged by Natural England ?
b. Why have your local Duchy officials in Cornwall ignored letters of protest over the oystery ?
c. Why do some other organisations locally find some CornwallDuchy officials equally unhelpful over replying to letters ?
d. Does the Duchy condone damage to the Grade II listed Port Navas Quaywhich it owns ?
Please write to Mr Bertie Ross, Secretary and Keeper of the Records, Duchy of Cornwall , 10 Buckingham Gate, London SW1 6LA
Questions for Natural England
a. Why did you write to the Oystery tenant on 30 June 2008 alleging criminal damage to the SSSI but have since appeared to back off ? Have the many oyster tables placed on the SSSI without your approval been removed. You told the tenant to remove them immediately (in July 2008) – then extended their stay until 31 December 2008. Local residents took photographs of the oyster trestles/tables STILL on the SSSI at Tremerlin on 27 February 2009 (see photogrpahs in the SSSI pages and Gallery pages). Why is that Natural England ?
b. How was it that local Natural England Officials in Cornwall knew there were problems with the Oystery early on , affecting the environment andpotentially in breach of the EU Habitat Regulations – but the Chief Executive of NE was apparently in the dark until late July 2008 ? Why did it then take ages for the Chairman of NaturalEngland to write a strong letter to the Duchy ?
c. Why did Natural England not flag up the Chairman’s concerns to the Marine Fisheries Authority at the same time – given that the MFAgives out taxpayer money to the Oystery but on the advice of Natural England ?
Please write or email the Chief Executive of NE, Helen Phillips at Natural England, Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Riverside Exchange, Sheffield S38NH. Tel no: 0300 060 2745. Helen Phillipshelen.email@example.com
Kerrier Council was abolished on 1st April 2009 and few will lament its passing in Planning and Enforcement terms! Click here to read the letter from the Chairman of the Helford River Association to the Local Government Ombudsman 05/05/2009.
Although now part of Cornwall Council (a new unitary authority), the former Kerrier Planning Department exists as ‘Cornwall Council – West 2’ and at the same location – tel: 01209 614450.
Our questions to Cornwall Council – West 2 ( previously Kerrier) remain
a. How satisfied should we be with Kerrier’s track record on Enforcement matters ? b. How effective have you been for example over:
Port Navas Quay
c. Has the Head of Planning in West 2 ever visited Port Navas to see the problems herself ? If not, why not ? We would be happy to meet with Phil Mason , Head of Planning at Cornwall Council or Ms Stinson, there.
d. What success have local Councillors achieved regarding Enforcement Action? e. Who do the Councillors believe is accountable for running the Council when it comes to enforcement over breaches of planning – the Chief Executive or Councillors themselves ? We thought Councillors ran the Council?
f. Will West 2 be less slothful in replying to letters than was Kerrier ?
Neil Hatton – Councillor covering Port Navas. Cllr Hatton appears not to have an email address but you can write to him at Mill Cottage, Polwheveral, Constantine, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5RW – tel 01326 340677 Phil Mason - Head of Planning for Cornwall Council - firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) (Formerly the Marine Fisheries Authority)
This is the Whitehall Department which has been funding the Oystery out of taxpayers' money. The considerable amounts ofmoney involved come from the EU but it is TAXPAYERS’ moneywhich they are spending. The MMO is also responsible for overseeing the Coast Protection Act when potential risks to navigation are involved. In the case of the HelfordRiver this means the placing of the many oyster cages by the Oystery on the sea bed. These are large items and we have included a photograph of one to illustrate elsewhere on this website
a. Given that the MMO makes grants of taxpayer money to the Oysterydo you have any compliance issues in regards to those grants by the Oystery
b. Given that your grants are made on the technical advice of Natural England how aware have you been of the concerns of Natural England about events in the HelfordRiver ?
c. Is it MMO practice to make grants when for example that Natural England Informed the MMO that damage had been caused to the SSSI ?
d. Were any Oyster Cages placed on the HelfordRiver river bed by the Oystery (involving the Coast Protection Act) prior to an application from the Oystery for permission ? If so how many ? How many Oyster Cages are there in situ? Does the MMO actually know?
e. How much taxpayer money is involvedin the Oystery Project from the MMO ?
f. Has anyone senior from the MMO visited the HelfordRiver to see what has taken place there as a result of taxpayer money being allocated ? If so – who and when ? If not why not? Please email the MMO, based in Newcastle - email@example.com - tel no: 0300 123 1032 . The MMO is part of Defra run by Caroline Spelman MP. g. Does the MMO have concerns when people do things first then apply for permission afterwards?
h. "I am unaware of any Appropriate Assessment which has been undertaken for the proposal " (the Oyster Cages). Extract from a letter of 15 May 2009 by Mr McLennan of the MMO , who is handling the Oyster Cages application. The EU Habitat Regulations which require an Appropriate Assessment, are a key aspect of protecting the Helford River and all Special Areas of Conservation such as the Helford and Lower Fal. i. Why has the MMO refused to disclose all of the objection letters to the Oyster Cages following a Freedom of Infornation request ?
Questions for the HelfordMarine Conservation Group (HMCG)
Are you concerned about damage to the SSI river bed at Tremerlin on the HelfordRiver? If so – what have you done about it ?
b. How wise is the HRVCAto associate itself overjoint publications with the Oystery ?
c. Has the dredging of the river bed caused any damage? Where have the dredgings been dropped ?
d. Why does the March 2009 newsletter of the HRVCA appear to make no mention of environmental damage in the Helford River? Is that not an important role for environmental organisations?
e. How familiar is the HRVCA with the EU Habitat Regulations ? What do these Regulations tell us all about what should/should not be happening in the Helford River ?
Please contact Charli Marshall - 0740 090777.
Marinet and the Marine Conservation Society
Two very focused organisations, independent of commercial interests, involved in Marine Conservation are Marinet www.marinet.org.uk and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) www.mcsuk.org.uk. The MCS was instrumental in achieving a ban on dredging (for scallops) in the Lower Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation. Click here to read the MCS letter to the Government which resulted in that ban. Marinet are active in protecting our marine heritage around the UK Click on to www.marinet.org.uk and then onto their South Western Region section for more information.
Members of Parliament
There are three MPs with constituencies involving the Helford:
Accessing Information. Why not use laws now available to find out yourselves what these public sector organisations aredoing on the HelfordRiver? After all TAXPAYERS pay for their salaries and pensions !
The two key pieces of legislation available to find out what public servants do in our name are the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Environmental InformationRegulations (EIR). The EIR is there to help people find out about risks totheir environment and is much broader than the FOIA.
We have been asked a number of questions about the range freedom of information type legislation and also about the Habitat Regulations (1994) which have been ignored in the Helford River - so far with impunity – even though Defra is supposed to enforce these Regulations. But it was Defra/MFA who handed out TAXPAYERS’ money to the Oyster Unit/Factory in the first place.
If you want answers about the HelfordRiverArea in particular just email any of the above with your questions and state that the request is made under the FOIA and or the EIR ! It is amazing what you can elicit. Some public authorities try all sorts of tricks to stop us knowing what we have a right to know – citing for example the Data Protection Act and hiding behind exemptions in the FOIA/EIR. Ultimately one can write though to the Information Commissioner(just google the name) based in Cheshire. It was, you may remember, the Information Commissioner who forced MPs to reveal their expenses details! After a time you get to know when you are near the truth. Some ‘Public Authorities’ (Councils, Quangos, Government Departments etc) just get more and more obstructive !
The Duchy of Cornwall claims exemption from the FoIA and EIR ( but see Tribunal Ruling section of the website - ruling of The Information Tribunal 3/11/11) and has refused point blank to answer questions about the impact of the Duchy owned Oyster Unit on the environment. How sad given the declared environmental passion of the Duke of Cornwall. We feel simply that the Duchy of Cornwall should practice what the Duke of Cornwall preaches.