The Ecology Dialogue

My personal dialogue with ecology has always taken place out in the wilderness, on high mountains, lonely pathways or even very simply in our orchard and garden. Today however, in an unexpected turn, my relationship with wider ecological and environmental issues took me to my local pub.

Before too many aspersions are cast I'd like to quickly say that I had been asked to photograph a meeting, held over a coffee or two, between Roger Helmer MEP (seen here) and representatives of CAFFO, a small group of local people opposed to the construction of a US style Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation in our neighbourhood.

Roger had previously offered broad support for the construction of the CAFO facility and had come to hear the opposing view. It was a good conversation; here he is considering issues with the technological paraphernalia that were used to present the local view in the background. I think some of the concerns and questions landed with him and he offered some helpful advice - perhaps his views shifted slightly...

Where am I with this kind of development?  Well, 8100 cows on 52 acres of concrete within a mile of my rural village? You could park 13 Ark Royal size aircraft carriers on the site and I've seen Ark Royal - she ain't small. The cows will produce twice as much 'waste' as the nearby city of 65,000 people. In the US a similar sized operation would require an exclusion zone of 8 miles - some local houses will be within yards. This is an installation that will have massive implications for UK dairy farming and all so the supermarkets can squeeze their margins on cheaply produced, low value milk a few pence higher. 

This kind of economic, ecological, industry shifting change needs sensitive and informed dialogue; the risks are simply enormous. And I wonder where political leadership and vision is held for our respective futures when local people, meeting in the back rooms of pubs, are the movers and shakers...