Nature with Nik Mitchell: Protecting the natural world through people power

National Grid wants to build a converter station on these wetlands at Minster Photo Nik Mitchell

One of the most important components for protecting our nature, is people power.

The life of a naturalist is an exciting, adventurous and happy one. My strong connection is with the natural world, it brings me so much joy wherever I go, I see the world in a different and more exciting way than most.

But unfortunately, we always have a dark cloud following us. That dark cloud is the constant destruction of our surroundings, often from development and many other things like pollution, the climate crisis, deforestation, changes in land and sea use, invasive species, the list goes on.

Minster marshes Photo Nik Mitchell

As I’m sure you’re aware at the moment one of the most incredibly special parts of Thanet is under threat from a giant development by National Grid. A giant converter site is planned to be built on the Minster marshes. This involves giant buildings 100ft high and its associated infrastructures such as roads and super pylons, it will have an irreversible effect on the environment.

Many of the people with a connection to the natural world are aware how incredibly special these wetlands are and have decided to fight it. I have been working alongside many others to get the story out there about what’s happening, what will be affected and most importantly what we can do.

There’s a long road ahead of us in this battle but we have started by heading out and putting on public meetings for people to attend. At these meetings (that have now finished) we explained everything and showed off the incredible wildlife there. We’ve held meetings so far in Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Minster and Sandwich, it has been hard work but great to see people turning up to listen. It’s been so heart-warming to see people coming together – various local residents, many local councillors (from different parties), landowners, an MP (Roger Gale), naturalists, photographers and a gamekeeper.

Thanet is one of the most nature depleted parts of the country and there is much less of a connection with nature than elsewhere in the UK, therefore overall, less appreciation. So, when it comes to the risk of great destruction like this people tend to be less likely to fight for it.

I am always standing up for nature like many others in Thanet. Although I’m not alone I often feel very alone losing battle after battle, watching Thanet relentlessly turn to concrete and losing tree after tree. I feel like there’s nothing I can do and my efforts are wasted, but I want to be someone that tried. I have a fire in my belly.

Recently things have been different. On this occasion people have joined the battle on this one particular devastating development. We have all come together, there’s a community of us. We are going to be fighting this development. We can fight it and we can make a difference.

It makes me feel great to know other people share that fire in their bellies and will come together to protect what is ours. Be someone that is willing to get up, get out and protect our natural world, don’t just give up or consider it someone else’s job. Be someone that tried.

Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook

Consultation dates for National Grid converter station plan at wildlife rich Minster marshes

12 Comments

  1. Good luck. It’s disgusting what is happening to our precious, ever shrinking countryside.
    The current House building that is decimating nature is bad enough, but things are only going to get worse when the Labour Party gain power and double house building targets.
    Unfortunately not one sing political party has the courage to openly come out and admit that the population explosion that we are currently witnessing is out of control and the Labour Party with their let them all in attitude is only going to add to the concrete cancer that is spreading over our dwindling farmland, and green belt. None of the politicians from any of the parties care about the wildlife in this Country.

  2. 800 years ago or so, the site of today’s Minster Marsh was the Wantsum Channel separating the Isle of Thanet from the mainland. The land the converter station will be built on use to literally be in the sea, so in the big picture, it’s closer to being a vacant lot than ancient woodlands. So, describing the converter station as “an irreversible effect on the environment” is quite humourous in the grand scheme of things.

    Unless you live under a rock, we need electricity as we (at least most of us) are modern humans. While I love nature and am enthusiastic about protecting our natural spaces in this country, I’m fine with this plant being built at this location.

    If you want things to look more natural and more pleasant to the eye, put a wrecking ball to Arlington House in Margate and other brutalist architecture monstrosities. Also, you may want to ask yourself why we need to have more housing, or more power production? The answers are in the boats headed this way.

  3. Both posts above allude to the root cause being over population, causing consumption far beyond our world’s limited resources. Our established course is increasingly recognised as unsustainable, and we can only experience the pleasures our parents enjoyed, by reverting to what they had in their youth i.e. largely peace, far simpler taste, far fewer options, zero social media and immersion with responsibility in our local communities.
    Nik deserves all the respect and recognition he gets, but he also experiences pleasures we should but seldom will, because we lost the connection he still has.

  4. The reason for this converter station has nothing to do with boats, little to do with an expanding population, and lots to do with the move away from fossil fuels to renewable green energy (not least, the need to “fuel” electric vehicles)
    Most windfarms are off shore, meaning that cables need to be brought onshore and joined up with the Grid. Because renewable is a new technology, its location isn’t conveniently near existing Grid infrastructure.
    Developments in electrical transmission have lead to High Voltage Direct Current systems. But this electricity needs to be converted to alternating current before it can be fed into the Grid. Hence the need for the Converter Station.
    I have no problem with the cable coming ashore at Pegwell Bay. The Nemo cable, installed about 10 years ago, appears to have had no effect on the environment. The technique used to install this new cable will be less invasive than was used for Nemo.
    However, I think that the siting of the actual converter building is wrong. It will make a huge impact on the environment. And by running the cable another kilometre or so up the hill, the kit could be installed somewhere on the vast, empty Manston site.
    And those of us clamouring about our countryside, just remember that hardly any of it is “natural”. Most of what was “natural” was cleared away several thousand years ago to facilitate farming.
    It’s worth considering this: to support a European life style requires the resources of 5 planet Earth’s. If we don’t all radically change our life styles, there won’t be much left to hand on to future generations.

  5. And meanwhile not a single one of the thousands of new houses being built on Thanet has solar panels installed. Another opportunity to future proof overlooked in order to maximise profits for the few. Thank goodness for people like Nik doing what they can to protect what little remains of out naturally world.

    • That’s a really good point. Gas boilers are supposed to be being phased out, yet just about all new builds are equipped with gas boilers, and virtually none with solar or heat pumps.

  6. Every way you look at it thanet council and kcc are useless, people running them organisations couldn’t run a bath, all back handers brown envelope brigade, they don’t care about anyone but themselves they don’t give a toss about wildlife or anything except lining there pockets

  7. I would very much like to see the environment protected but at the same time realise that this is a necessary facility. So where would be an suitable alternative site? Realistic suggestions please, not Manston which is another subject.

    • Manston is a perfectly reasonable consideration. The owner’s plans include building a number of large structures for cargo storage, aircraft repairs and so on. The site occupies 100s of acres. There would be ample room to accommodate one more building without compromising air safety.

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