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RSPB is not depriving kids of play facilities

By SPP Reporter

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Her basic concern is that this award has somehow deprived deserving children in Caithness from much-needed play facilities. This is not the case and it may be helpful if I introduced some facts, which will hopefully allay Mrs Marr’s concerns..

The RSPB applied to the Landfill Communities Fund for support to undertake a programme of drain-blocking in an area of damaged peatland with the twin aims of making the area better for wildlife and improving its contribution to carbon storage.

Peatland has an important role in storing and locking up massive quantities of carbon which, if released into the atmosphere, would contribute to climate change.

The Landfill Communities Fund has a number of funding priorities and associated funding streams and one of these is indeed for community facilities, including play parks. But, and it is a pretty crucial “but”, the RSPB didn’t apply to that fund.

Instead we applied to the biodiversity projects fund. The biodiversity fund is open only to registered bodies which undertake projects that have a biodiversity benefit. It is not open to applications for community facilities as these types of project are supported by the community facilities fund.

So, whilst the sensationalist headline might read “RSPB takes money from Caithness kids”, a more factual headline would be “The RSPB (a conservation body) applies to the Landfill Communities Biodiversity Fund (a conservation fund) to restore some peatland (a conservation project).” This, I suggest, is hardly breaking news!

Now that is cleared up, there is another point in Mrs Marr’s opinion piece that warrants comment. It is her declaration that, whilst she thinks restoration of the peatlands is a good thing, she isn’t going to pay for it and she doesn’t think anyone else should either. Well, except for the RSPB, that is.

As I have already mentioned, carbon build-up in the atmosphere is having a dramatic effect on the earth’s atmosphere. That effect presents as a marked increase in the past 45 years of what are termed as extreme weather events, the like of which we regularly see on our TV screens.

Carbon storage in peatland has an important role in locking up vast quantities of carbon and our project in Sutherland is a small but positive contribution to that process.

Mrs Marr may not want to pay for it, but to be honest, she already is. Extreme flooding events, driven by climate change, cost the UK economy £1billion per year and have added five per cent to the insurance bill of every householder in the country.

So this isn’t just the RSPB’s problem, it is a problem that is a shared by every citizen and level of government in this country.

George Campbell

RSPB Regional Director North Scotland

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