May 13 2020 Askham Bog saved

The planning inspector dismisses appeal to build houses next to the Bog

Professor Alistair Fitter along with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust championed the campaign and threw down the gauntlet to local moth recorders to help catalogue the lepidotera of the bog and in particular to see if the extremely rare Marsh Carpet moth was still in residence at this one of the last known sites in Yorkshire. In recent times a couple of larvae had been found but an adult had never been taken. To Support this Allan Rodda and the NE team at Wheldrake had attempted to trap Marsh Carpet earlier in June but without sucess....The challenge was on!

The Mothathon Challenge

Over the summer of 2019 each week a 'mothathon' was held. We kicked off with Buterfly Conservation's Dave Wainwright along with the University of York, YWT, Terry Crawford and about 8 local moth recorders for a mass trapping attempt with 11 traps. These included mercury vapour Robinson's, LED 's and Actinic's scattered around the site close to patchs of meadow rue. Late into the night upto 10 recorders huddled around a mercury vapour lamp and the air filled with latin names from the learned and their helpers furiously scribed the rapidly growing list of 100's of new species to add to Askham's Catalogue of evidence for th e Public Inquiry... but no Marsh Carpet. The recorders came back early the following morning and catalogued their trap's contents and so the list grew week on week. An outstanding find was Dentated Pug in Peter Mayhew's trap. The evidence amassed as the the planning appeal loomed in the autumn of 2019.... but these guys were ready

On a visit to the site Professor Alistair Fitter explains to Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation the importance of the unique habitat at Askham Bog for the Marsh Carpet moth

'Any disturbance of the water level could be catastrophic to the species and the site'

Sir David Attenborough called on "all those who love the natural world" to support the campaign, saying: "It is hugely valued by the people of York and by all naturalists and is part of our cultural and natural heritage." It is our collective responsibility to save it." “So much of the natural world is in peril and now, more than ever before, ancient places like Askham Bog, rich in biodiversity, must be protected."

Comment after the appeal results:

A spokesperson for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - which manages the nature reserve and fundraised £39,000 to make a case at the planning inquiry - said the team is "overjoyed". Thanks go to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust who have been instrumental in informing the debate about the potential ecological damage to the SSSI and to everyone who has made representations at both a local and national level. They thanked their supporters and the council, adding: "We are thrilled that Askham Bog can now continue to thrive as a special place for wildlife and the people of York for years to come.

"Our vision is to protect and restore our natural world, help wildlife to thrive and ensure a greener future for us all.

"In the midst of the climate emergency, and recognising the joy that nature is providing at the current time, the decision to protect Askham Bog is a welcome step in the right direction."

The council's planning committee refused to grant permission for the scheme in July 2019 - but the developers appealed the decision and the council was dragged into a planning inquiry over the decision.

The work to conserve Askham Bog goes on and I hope that this news means it will remain a special place for generations to come