Local Politics IV: wind, water and writing

For anyone out there interested in political politics, it turns out that Honda’s application to build 3 wind turbines on its site in Swindon, to meet environmental standards for reducing its carbon footprint, was rejected by the planning committee last week, after objections by local residents. 

Meanwhile, another long running local campaign, this one to stop housing development on and around Coate, on the outskirts of town, garnered some national attention at the weekend. The Guardian’s Review section on Saturday had a little story about the campaign to ‘save Coate‘. The venue for the story, in ‘The Week in Books’ section, was notable – the campaign is spearheaded by the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust, and the campaign revolves around the link between this large area of green space and the Victorian writer Richard Jefferies – “who was arguably the founding father of environmentalism in Britain”, and maybe even the US (who knew!). Jeffries was born at Coate, so Swindon now gets to claim him. Coate Water is a popular local amenity, centred on a huge nineteenth century reservoir which was the headwater for the Wilts and Berkshire canal – so there is an interesting loop between this modern campaign to save local green space and Swindon’s pre-railway position within an industrialising economy (Swindon is actually great for amateurish historical geography). And because lots of Swindonians visit Coate Water for some reason or other (for the pitch and putt, paddling, or picniking), the campaign has a certain ‘reach’ across the whole town. If you ever find yourself whizzing along the M4 towards Junction 15, or along the A419 to or from Cirencester or Marlborough, you will be passing by – and you should stop off, the best thing is the miniature railway.

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