Sunday, 25 January 2009

Helford jetty - nimbyism at its worst

Standby because I'm going off on a really big rant today.

Helford is on the south side of the river of the same name (perhaps more accurately it faces on to a very small creek off the river) and it has really hit the headlines in the last few days. Why? Well it got to be featured on the BBC's excellent 'InsideOut' programme because of controversy over a proposed development there. I use the word 'development' very loosely here because the scheme is about the provision of a jetty and access road to it. At the moment the fishermen have to transfer their catch from their boat into something much smaller and then manually lift the fish onto the foreshore from which it is loaded into a van that then drives over the beach. We are talking about some serious amounts of fish too, fish worth over £1 million pounds a year. From Manaccan Parish Council the plan went on to Kerrier District Council who approved it, conservation organisations were also happy with it. The access road it would seem would be almost at the level of the foreshore and by just serving the jetty it would not be generating significant traffic in its own right. The jetty itself we are told would be stone clad, not some exposed concrete monstrosity, in other words would not look dissimilar to those in many another Cornish fishing village. So far as I can see the whole scheme once complete would weather into the landscape and provide a vital facility for the continuation of one of the county's great industries. Thus far there would seem little reason for it not to be built.

However ... Helford, photographed on many a calendar, is primarily a hideaway for second home owners, in fact well under a half of the properties are lived in full time. These second home owners are the ones putting a spoke in the wheel. Through a village association they have organised themselves into a powerful objection group and have now forced a judicial review. How dare they! How bloody dare they! I'm spitting blood on this one! They come down here from the south east for the odd weekend and think they can dictate how the working indigenous population should carry on its business. I read a comment on the internet suggesting that these well heeled people should go out and experience at first hand the life of a local fisherman. Well said whoever wrote that. These people are very happy to go into a posh seafood restaurant and enjoy the high quality fish caught in Cornwall but are totally unbothered about the process of getting the fish from sea to plate. I am not by the way having a go at second home owners in general nor am I envious of their wealth, it's just the totally selfish attitude of these morons wanting to keep Helford just the way they want it. Another thing that has come to light is the fact that a number of them have written to the council from both their main homes up country and also from their second homes in Helford presumably to give the impression that there are more objectors than there are in reality.

The InsideOut programme managed to track down one of the objectors to his main residence in London. It was immediately obvious how selfish and self centred the man was. A pretence has been made that this jetty development will upset the tourist industry. What pitiful rubbish. There are towns and villages all round our coast with jetties, tourists like to see proper small scale fishing going on. As I see it the heart of Helford shouldn't really be affected by the proposal. There are really no good reasons to object and, as I wrote earlier, conservation bodies are happy with the idea.

Thanks to the internet it has been possible for supporters of the fishermen to have their say. A Facebook group has been set up here for people to express their backing. I've just looked and see that there are now over 4000 in this group! I've never had any desire to join a social networking site but this is really important. The process of signing up to Facebook was quite painless actually and I would encourage anyone to do it to support these local fishermen.

1 comment:

youradventurerinbeijing said...

Hear hear

I'm glad i wasn't the only person incensed by this story.