FAIRLOP WATERS: Local conservationists protest lorry road plans for Ilford nature reserve

Hainault – VIJAY SHAH via AARON WALAWALKAR and Ilford Recorder

Redbridge environmental campaigners are protesting against plans to construct a ‘haul road’ for heavy-duty lorries near the scenic Fairlop Waters nature reserve in Ilford, Essex, in the UK, according to a report published by their local newspaper, the Ilford Recorder.

They fear the constant stream of large and noisy trucks carrying gravel on the new route will destroy the peace and feel of the Fairlop Waters Nature Park, which lies in the Hainault area, close to the A12 road and is Redbridge’s largest nature reserve and leisure spot. The park is home to species of rare birds like the long-eared owl and indigenous trees, which the campaigners say will be affected by the new road.

 

The borough council had authorised a map, seen by the protesters and the Recorder newspaper, which appears to show a 13-metre wide road snaking through the south-western reach of Fairlop park, a reserve protected by national law. The road would be used by lorries carrying minerals for construction and was being planned by the council since early 2016, it was reported.

Leading the protest is wildlife group Fairlop Birders. The group’s spokesperson, Chris Gannaway, told the Ilford Recorder: “This is a terrible state of affairs when one group of council officers take the trouble to develop and go through the Local Nature Reserve registering process with Natural England, while the planners allow developers Brett Tarmac to run roughshod over what is now a mature wildlife site.”

Redbridge’s local government have been accused of hiding the true extent of the plans for the road and operating with a lack of scrutiny regarding the future building of the slip route. The council’s planning committee are known to have given conditional planning permission to the road’s builders, Brett Tarmac Limited, as part of plans to extend Fairlop Quarry, in Hainault Road, on the 5th of June this year. Representatives of the council countered by saying the Brett Tarmac application was made through normal rules included site notices, advertisements in the local press, letters to Fairlop’s neighbours, public consultation and a planning committee meeting.

“Before development can proceed, we will be working closely with our partners and environmental agencies to ensure that the relevant planning conditions relating to biodiversity and vehicle movement are discharged.”, a council representative told the Recorder. Brett Tarmac also claimed that they also undertook responsible environmental surveys and public permission seeking before setting about plans for the new road.

SOURCES:

Ilford Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/IlfordRecorder/

“‘This is deplorable’: Wildlife campaigners condemn plans for haulage road near Fairlop Waters nature reserve” – Aaron Walawalkar, Ilford Recorder/Archant (3 August 2018) http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/wildlife-fairlop-waters-protest-haulage-road-1-5637593

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Long Eared Owl (9438319240).jpg” – Ian Kirk via tm, Wikimedia Commons (4 August 2013) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Long_Eared_Owl_(9438319240).jpg

Advertisements

BORIS NEMTSOV: Russian opposition leader gunned down

The politician Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader serving in Russia’s parliament, the Duma, has been shot dead in Moscow, the European news division of the BBC reports.

The country’s officials say that Nemtsov, who once served as deputy prime minister, was killed yesterday in Moscow while travelling around the city by foot. The BBC reports that unidentified attackers passing by in a car shot four times into Nemtsov’s back as he crossed a bridge near the Kremlin, police in Moscow said.

According to the BBC, Nemtsov was with a friend, and was crossing the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge when the drive-by shooting took place at 11:40 pm local time (8:40 pm GMT) yesterday (27 February 2015), said the Interior Ministry. He was shot with a pistol from a white car of unknown make and model. The attackers then promptly fled the scene, a police source told Russia’s Interfax news agency. Meduza, a news website, added that several people left the vehicle to gun down Nemtsov. His death was formally confirmed by a colleague of his RPR-Parnassus party, Ilya Yashin. Flowers were left at the site of his killing on the bridge and tributes to the slain politician were coming in via social media since yesterday night’s incident. 

He was murdered only hours after giving a speech offering his support for a march in Moscow against the conflict in Ukraine which was due to take place tomorrow. In his last tweet, Mr Nemtsov sent out an appeal for Russia’s divided opposition to unite at an anti-war march he was organising for Sunday.

If you support stopping Russia’s war with Ukraine, if you support stopping Putin’s aggression, come to the Spring March in Maryino on 1 March,” he wrote.

Russia’s controversial President, Vladimir Putin, expressed outrage at the killing of Boris Nemtsov, and condemned his murder, according to a source associated with the Kremlin. President Putin is said to have taken ‘personal control’ of the investigation into the killing, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to news outlets.

Investigators charged with uncovering the motive for Nemtsov’s shooting have said that the perpetrators may have been attempting to create instability inside Russia. The investigative committee said in a freshly-released report that a number of possibilities are being considered, including that the former deputy prime minister was murdered on the orders of Islamist extremists, but there is no evidence to support any theory at the current time.

Putin’s equivalent in the United States, President Barack Obama also condemned the “brutal murder” and asked Russian lawmakers to conduct a “prompt, impartial and transparent investigation“. The President of UkrainePetro Poroshenko, whose country is currently battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Luhansk (Lugansk) and Donetsk regions of Ukraine, described Mr. Nemtsov as a “bridge between Ukraine and Russia“, according to the BBC.

The murderers’ shot has destroyed it. I think it is not by accident,” Poroshenko commented in a statement published on his administration’s Facebook page.

While there is no suggestion that the Putin administration has anything to do with Nemtsov’s murder, the politician himself, who had served under President Boris Yeltsin‘s administration in the 1990s, had recently given an interview where he voiced that Putin would have him killed for speaking out against the Ukrainian war, which Russia is accused of secretly funding and arming. Nemtsov’s lawyer claimed the politician was receiving death threats via social media for his opposition of Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict and for its annexation of Crimea last year, which brought the country international condemnation. 

Nemtsov’s career also included working in economics and serving as governor of the city of Nizhny Novgorod. He fell out of favour with Vladimir Putin soon after the latter was elected and subsequently Nemtsov became an opposition politician.

Fully known as Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov, was born in the Olympic city of Sochi in Russia’s Caucasus region in 1959. He graduated from the State University of Gorky in the field of physics in 1985. After earning his PhD, Nemtsov worked as a research fellow at the Gorky Radio-Physics Research Institute (NIRFI) until entering politics in 1989 as the Soviet era was drawing to a close. He allied himself with fellow reformists in the Russian parliament and soon became a confidante of reformist president Boris Yeltsin. By 2004, and marginalised by the new Putin government, Nemtsov began to speak out against what he saw as the increasing clampdown on newly-won freedoms by the President, and that ‘Putinists’, the president’s loyalists, were leading Russia towards a dictatorship. Nemtsov made his opposition to Putin and his politics very clear. He was arrested by police in November 2007 during one such protest against Putin. 

The Russian president himself had accused Nemtsov of being involved with corruption. During Nemtsov’s tenure as director and chairman of a small Russian financial institution, Neftyanoi Bank, which was involved with the country’s burgeoning oil industry, investigators were called in following allegations of fraud and money laundering, which forced Nemtsov to step down from his positions at Neftyanoi. On 16 December 2010, Putin stated, in a live television broadcast, that during the 1990s, Nemtsov was friendly with the billionaire oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who had been sent to prison and who later fled Russia. Putin accused him of ‘dragging around billions’ of Russian oil money.

Nemtsov was just fifty-five years of age at the time of his killing. He was married with four children.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Russia opposition politician Boris Nemtsov shot dead” – Sarah Rainsford and contributors, BBC News Europe/BBC (28 February 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31669061
“Boris Nemtsov” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Nemtsov
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

SYRIAN CIVIL WAR: Assad’s forces launch attack on rebel city

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have today launched an air-strike attack against the rebel-held city of Qusayr, in Homs province, according to reports by opponents fighting against Mr. Assad’s government.

After months of fighting outside Qusayr between state forces and rebels, the Syrian army counter-struck with the aerial attack in an attempt to push back gains made by the rebels in recent months, according to a statement by opposition spokesperson Abu Ali.

Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Observers of Syria‘s state television have additionally confirmed to international news network CNN that the Syrian army have begun pounding the city with heavy artillery. Government tanks have completely surrounded the city and are moving in from various locations around Qusayr’s outskirts, according to the BBC. Qusayr has been under siege for several months, as various parts of Syria, including districts of the capital Damascus, pass from government to rebel control, and then revert again within weeks.

There have been claims that fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah  a Shi’a outfit considered terrorists by the United States and the European Union, are co-operating with the Syrian army to retake the town, which is situated close to the Lebanese border.

Meanwhile, in a sign that the war is becoming more sectarian, hundreds of Lebanese Sunnis have crossed the border to support the beleaguered rebels, who are predominately fellow Sunnis. Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath party is mostly drawn from the Alawi (Alawite) minority. 

Opposition activists have so far claimed the offensive has resulted in the loss of 16 lives as the air strikes come under way. Reports are coming in of ‘heavy shelling’. Officials from the U.S. Department of State also claim that government forces air-dropped propaganda leaflets over Qusayr, warning of dire consequences if the rebels retained control of the town and persisted with the siege.

In Lebanon’s capital Beirut, the BBC’s Jim Muir stated that should Qusayr remain in rebel hands, it will enable them easy passage to move arms and supplies along the porous border of Lebanon, which has traditionally come under Syria’s sphere of influence. Occupying the border town would give the Syrian army an advantage as they would be successful in cutting off opposition supply lines.

Since the civil war in Syria began in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ last year, it is estimated that around 60-80,000 people have perished in the fighting, with an additional 1.1 million refugees fleeing to squalid refugee camps in Syria’s neighbours Lebanon and Turkey. They are living in destitute conditions and survive with the help of NGO’s and sympathetic locals. However tensions are rising between displaced Syrians and Turks in the NATO power’s southern regions, most notably after a recent bomb blast in the town of Reyhanli, in which Syrians were attacked and their vehicles damaged by revenge mobs in the aftermath.

President Bashar al-Assad has remained openly defiant of both Syrian rebels and the West in their aims to put an end to his nearly thirteen years of autocratic rule of one of the Middle East’s largest nations. Assad has come under heavy criticism by Western powers for a litany of human rights abuses, including wholesale bombing of civilian areas, summary execution of rebels and alleged chemical attacks on villages in the north of Syria which killed one person. The West has so far stuck to a ‘hands-off approach’ as they seek to avoid another Iraq-style conflict and exacerbate sectarian tensions in the region.

Rebel forces have also been accused of human rights abuses and war crimes. This week a rebel leader was videoed cutting out the heart and liver from the corpse of a government soldier and taking a bite out of the heart as he swore revenge on troops loyal to President Assad. The video was received with international disgust and condemnation and the rebels have promised to take action against the commander featured in the mobile video.

RELATED NEWS from Zemanta

SOURCES:

CNN International on Twitter LINK

“Opposition: Syrian army targets rebel-held city” – Yousuf Basil, CNN – Edition International LINK

“Syria army ‘storms’ rebel town Qusair” – BBC News Middle East LINK

“Bashar al-Assad” – Wikipedia LINK