In this episode we talk with Dr Nuala Flood, Fulbright Scholar and senior lecturer in Architecture at Queen’s University. In 2019, the School of Architecture declared a climate emergency, integrating climate action into every teaching, research and outreach activity. Each January, Nuala runs an intensive week-long course: Public CoLab. Students work in small teams with local and international experts to design ambitious, site-specific projects. This year’s theme was 'Lagan Futures'. We talk about the imaginative projects students designed for the river as public space, a 'possible Lagan', about climate grief and people's right to beautiful, liveable places shared with plants and animals. References Public CoLab 2023: Embracing Belfast's Riverfront as Public Space, edited by Dr Nuala Flood https://issuu.com/nualafloodqub/docs/public_colab_2023_-_embracing_belfast_riverfront_l https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/persons/nuala-flood “Planners should be looking 200 years ahead to protect Belfast from climate crisis” by Shauna Corr, Belfast Live, 24 June 2022. https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/planners-should-looking-200-years-24221030
1 hr 8 min
This episode continues the story of poet Emma Must and her part in the extensive and influential environmental activist campaign that worked tirelessly and imaginatively to prevent the carving of a motorway through the beautiful, mythical Twyford Down. We pick up the story in the summer of 1993, when a civil injunction is served against her and 76 others by the Ministry of Transport. We talk about what happened next and the consequences of breaking the civil injunction. Emma also reads from her recent poetry collection, The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday, including the statement she wrote for her court appearance in July 1993, before she was imprisoned. Links and references Must, Emma, 2022. The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday, Valley Press. https://www.valleypressuk.com/shop/p/yellow-wednesday “Memories of the lost Down”, Hampshire Chronicle, 26 January 2023 https://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/news/23270146.m3-destruction-twyford-inspires-book-poetry/ Must, Emma. 2022. “What Northern Ireland means to me”, Shared Future News. https://sharedfuture.news/category/podcast/wnimtm/ Must, Emma. 2014. “Twyford Rising”, in Here We Stand: Women Changing the World, compiled and edited by Helena Earnshaw and Angharad Penrhyn Jones, Honno: Dina Powys, pp 193-206. Must, Emma. 2022. “The Colour of its Voice” Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine https://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article6078-the-colour-of-its-voice.html https://www.emmamust.com/
In this episode, we talk with Emma Must, poet, Belfast resident and, in another time and place, an accidental activist. We begin by discovering our common appreciations of the city of Belfast, including Emma’s encounter with the tree-felling and vegetation removal along the River Lagan towpath. “Wolf Moon”, the poem she wrote in response to that devastation, is read here for the first time, a world premiere. The conversation then moves back to the early 1990s, when Thatcher’s government was embarking on its massive so-called “Roads for Prosperity” scheme, quipped as the “largest road building programme for the UK since the Romans”. Emma, fresh out of university and working as a children’s librarian in Winchester, sees on her daily train commute from Southampton how the top of Twyford Down, a beloved ancient chalk landscape of rolling hills, is being scraped away to build a motorway.
Episode 5: The Silent Hedge As part of the Belfast Tidal Flood Alleviation Scheme that destroyed the avenue of mature sycamore trees discussed in Episodes 1 and 2: Mollie-Rose Way, a mature, well-established and well-loved hawthorn hedge was also destroyed. In the 2018 environmental screening report that concluded the scheme would not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, the hedge was described as “ornamental planting” of “negligible to low local importance”. Locally, the hedge was known as The Singing Hedge because it was full of chattering house sparrows, a species included on the UK Birds of Conservation Concern Red List of birds in “critical decline” and “in most urgent need of our help”. Sparrows have been on the Red List since at least 2002. The Singing Hedge grew 40 metres along the length of a car park in parallel to a wire fence covered in evergreen and deciduous climbers. The hedge and the fence vegetation acted in tandem to provide safety, food and shelter for the sparrows living in this urban patch of land. In this episode, we talk to Peter Cush, known as “the nature man”, about his decades-long affection and regard for the sparrows. We talk about his response to the destruction of the hedge, his persistent advocacy for the house sparrows and ongoing efforts to ensure the Department of Infrastructure replaces the hedge and restores the sparrows’ habitat. Post Script On Wednesday 8th February, the DfI met with Peter Cush at last to discuss their plans for replanting. The meeting was attended by local residents and politicians. Peter Cush’s multiple suggestions and solutions for reinstating the hedge were met with caution by DfI employees, who insisted that any replanting must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the sight lines required for cars to enter and exit the car park. DfI stressed repeatedly that vegetation must not affect any of the car parking spaces, and it could not be allowed to reduce the space people needed to access their car boots. DfI gave no priority at all to the needs of the Red Listed house sparrows. On Monday 20th of March, the DfI contacted Peter with detailed plans stating "We are aiming to have planting of the hedging and trees along the wall, in the upper/Cutters carpark, completed within the next few weeks. Planting in the lower carpark and along the path towards the weir is programmed for later in the scheme". Peter and others welcome this development and will watch this proposed reinstatement with interest. Links and resources Belfast Tidal FAS Environmental Screening Report, Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Rivers, 23 August 2018, https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/infrastructure/btfas-es-report-drainage-eia-regulations-ni-2017.pdf Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (2021) report summary https://www.rspb.org.uk/globalassets/downloads/bocc5/bocc5-report.pdf What is the Red List for UK birds? https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/uk-conservation-status-explained/ Lynch, Connor Lynch. 2023. “Trees to be replanted at another location after removal from Stranmillis path for flood scheme.” https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/trees-replanted-another-location-after-26230459 Galbraith, Colin 2002. “The population status of birds in the UK: birds of conservation concern: 2002–2007”. Bird Populations 7: 173-179. https://www.birdpop.org/docs/journals/Volume-7/BPJ07-24_Galbraith.pdf
1 hr 5 min
For more than five thousand years, Knock Iveagh (Cnoc Uí Echach) in County Down has been a sacred site of national historical and cultural significance. Freely accessible under common law, the hill is an ancient place of assembly aligned with the path of the sun and other hills in the surrounding Ulster landscape. Since September 2017, that access has been blocked, the cairn (a scheduled historic monument) threatened and the hill itself damaged. After a defective planning process, construction of a wind turbine and associated infrastructure was carried out without consultation and with no environmental impact assessment. In this episode, we talk with Anne Harper, local resident, professional musician and storyteller who, with other allies, has been researching the area and campaigning persistently against the flawed planning process and the administrative inertia that continues to blight this beloved place. Credits Knock Iveagh, composed and performed by Anne Harper The Ardbrin trumpet (replica) courtesy of Simon and Maria O’Dwyer of Ancient Music Ireland Links and Resources ‘Breathing Life into the Embers at Knock Iveagh: The Importance of Community Guardianship in Protecting Heritage at Risk.’ Presentation to the Ulster Archaeological Society by Arlene Copeland, Emma Grossmith, Anne Harper, and Veronica Kelly (The Friends of Knock Iveagh) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLteI3_AQ3M Kelly, Eammon P. 2020. “Knock Iveagh and Drumballyroney, Co. Down: investigation of a royal ritual landscape”, Emania, 25, 113-135." by Eamonn P Kelly Knock Iveagh: A personal narrative on a changing landscape Posted on 20th February 2022 By Claire Nolan – interview with Anne Harper https://research.reading.ac.uk/changing-landscapes/knock-iveagh-a-personal-narrative-on-a-changing-landscape/ Northern Ireland Audit Office. 2022. Planning in Northern Ireland. https://www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/publications/planning-northern-ireland Save Knock Iveagh https://saveknockiveagh.weebly.com/ The Friends of Knock Iveagh are campaigning for the removal of the unlawful wind turbine development, and for the site to be taken into State Care, and they are asking supporters to sign and share this online petition: https://chng.it/pGrSBNtg The Sound of an Iron Age trumpet returns to Knock Iveagh after 2,000 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drTYCVpSXvg
1 hr 9 min
In early 2021, after a hiatus of over a decade, building works began on a luxury housing estate in South Belfast on the right bank of the River Lagan. Within the Lagan Valley’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Northern Ireland’s oldest and smallest designated AONB – visitors to ‘Lagan Lands East’ began to notice the presence of enormous ‘spoil heaps’, adjacent to the housing site. These huge mounds of soil, dumped on a grass meadow near Galwalley Stream, were not only drowning the meadow, but blocked the natural paths local people had walked for years. In this episode, we talk to one such local walker, Drew, who sought answers about the spoil heaps and dumping ground and took his cause – to ensure rights of way and a halt on further environmental damage - to the public, political representatives and to Belfast City Council. Is Lagan Lands East lost or can paradise be regained?
1 hr 2 min
In episode 2, we continue the story of Mollie-Rose way and the beginnings of the accidental environmental activist group Save Our Lagan. In conversation with Mollie-Rose's mother, Olivia, we talk about what happened after the 24th of February 2022 and the week-long protest when Save Our Lagan and friends tried to prevent the further destruction of more trees along the river. We talk about the meetings held with officials and political representatives over the weekend, about the dramatic events of Monday 28th of February and how the protest came to an end. We talk about how it felt to be there and the legacy of the protests. For photos and more information go to https://www.saveourlagan.org/home/podcasts
Nov 25, 2022
In Belfast, on 10 January 2022, ten-year-old Mollie-Rose’s favourite part of her walk to school was torn apart and fed into a woodchipper. Without proper consultation or an Environmental Impact Assessment, this lovely part of the towpath along the Lagan Valley was cleared of all its habitats, including a row of 90-year-old trees – a millennium of tree-growth – leaving behind only stumps and tarmac. Ironically, the trees were removed as part of a tidal flood alleviation engineering construction, one that is being carried out along the Lagan River with no Environmental Impact Assessment, because, under current legislation, none is required. This episode is a conversation with Mollie-Rose’s mother, Olivia. We talk about the felling of the trees, how people responded, the beginnings of the Save Our Lagan grassroots environmental group and remember the protest that followed to stop the loss of more trees.
Nov 15, 2022