Buglife protesters stamp on Royal Mail's green credentials




Hannah Fletcher


The Times



As Royal Mail flaunted its green credentials with a new set of stamps featuring endangered insects yesterday, a conservation charity offered up a similar set highlighting the plight of insects that it says are threatened by one of the postal service's developments.

Buglife, or the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, also announced its intention to go to the Court of Appeal to challenge the development of a depot and lorry park for Royal Mail on marshland in Essex. In February, the High Court rejected Buglife's attempt to stop the building work at West Thurrock Marshes in Essex.

Until ten years ago, the marshes were home to a power station and a dumping ground for fly ash. But when the station closed in the mid1990s, the land proved to be a fertile breeding ground for wildlife. The area now has more then 1,300 insect, bird and reptile species. Despite this, the marshes are considered a brownfield site and planning permission to build on an area the size of 15 football pitches was awarded to Rosemound, a property developer, by the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

"The statutory objective of a planning body is development, rather than protecting wildlife," Matt Shardlow, the director of Buglife told The Times. "But you don't have to build absolutely everywhere. You should still apply good judgment.

"The fact that Royal Mail is launching a set of stamps featuring endangered insects while their own plans endanger our rarest insects is a classic example of spin over substance."

Among the insects on Buglife's stamps, which it says are endangered by the development at Thurrock Marshes, are the distinguished jumping spider, the five-banded weevil wasp, the humpbacked red ant and the fancy-legged fly.

A statement from the company yesterday said: "Royal Mail does not have any plans to move on to the Oliver Road site owned by developers Rosemound at Thurrock Marshes. We have been looking at alternative sites for several months."

But Mr Shardlow said: "They may not have a plan in their hands at the moment, but that doesn't mean they won't make one. They have refused to say to anyone that they won't do it."

Nick Martens, a Royal Mail spokesman, said: "If we say that we're never going to move on to that site, what happens when in ten years' time there's a further development? We may want to move on to it."