York City Planning documents online
The Final Report
Kindle edition of Finding Fulford is now available
The Fulford Tapestry
This is a sad tale of water voles who got in the way of the planning
This is a water vole (taken near Sheffield). They are shy
. Because they are supposed to enjoy some very strong, legal protection, we did not try to
photograph or interfere with the voles that thrive along Germany Beck during the
I would like to make it clear that no criticism of the
Police is intended or implied - They are the only 'good guys' in this sad
- As we worked along the Beck we often heard voles 'plop' into the water
but you don't often see these shy mammals.
- There was lots of evidence of tracks and holes and this was presented
at the public Inquiry.
- But the water voles do not officially exist - They don't exist because
the powers that be decided not to look for them.
- There are two thriving colonies - with a blank space between them.
- In February I spotted that the voles were re-colonising the area so I
wrote to officialdom.
- Letters were not answered so I made a
- In spite of my efforts, the habitat was destroyed,
so I told the police.
- They know who did it but prosecution was not considered possible.
- This links to the timetable I provided for
- But there is some evidence that at
least some of the voles survived (Jan 2010)
IN February 2009, when the vegetation had died back, these holes were
visible. It is very hard to reach the bank from which these pictures were
taken, and special permission and safety equipment was required to reach
When we started looking for a battlefield in 2001, we had talked with Natural England (aka
English Nature) to make sure we did not disrupt or destroy wildlife during
our work. They told me that Germany Beck had the reputation as a water vole
habitat. We did many surveys along the beck looking for fording places and
often heard the characteristic plop as a water vole took to the beck
to avoid us.
This habitat was raised during the public inquiry
and evidence presented. The inspector
concluded that there was no evidence for water voles even though he was
shown one of the tunnels during his site visit.
City of York,
some vole tracks (you have to look hard!) snapped during one walk along the
beck. We observed that the tracks seem to 'migrate' away from the river -
perhaps that explains their direction of colonisation.
- right - the habitat scraped clean. This image was taken from almost
exactly the same location as the images above - The position has marked
with an industrial GPS when some soil cores were being taken.
- Below - The marks left by the digger. It is a criminal offence to
damage water vole habitats. It is not clear from the image of this stretch
of the beck at the destruction has significantly widened the flow. And
this widening was not continued further back. It was only the portion
where there was evidence of water vole holes that was scraped.
- Below, right - The whole of the area covered by the images where
vole-holes were seen.
What a shame that those who are supposed to be responsible did not do
The big question
Now that the habitat has been destroyed - does it remove it as a
consideration for the planners?
It cannot be right that those with a financial interest in this land can
start by denying the existence of water voles and then benefit by the
destruction of the voles habitat.
There was some good news - The other colonies of
water voles are thriving when I last checked so they will be back. (Nov 2009)
In 2013 and 2014 I searched the beck and am sad to report that no colonies
Jan 2010 - While they have destroyed the habitat to
on the north bank, it looks as if there is a colony already established
immediately opposite, on the south bank. Did the colony move or did I miss the
evidence when I last checked?
City of York,
It is incompressible that the existence of water voles was denied at
the public inquiry when the evidence was clear. First, one of the colonies
was destroyed - Although the Police investigated it, the culprits were not
prosecuted. But some water voles crossed the river and made new
And now the central stretch,
with the two strongest colonies, has been completely dug out along both
banks. This time there was no hiding place. I will check,
but the destruction was so through that I doubt if there will be any
survivors to re-colonised the area. (there has been no sign of
the voles this summer 2012)
So when a water vole survey is carried out these charming mammals will have conveniently
vanished. That is really not how the system is supposed to work, but it is
what happened. This deliberate destruction
has gone unpunished.
Many tracks have been seen and photographed in the soft mud along the
banks of Germany Beck. Interestingly they nearly always head up stream -
My theory is that they walk one way because the flow is always strong and
then go with the flow the other way .