The night skies of Aldringham

The night skies of Aldringham, by G Horrocks

The night skies of Aldringham have always been beautiful.  I’ve lived here for over twenty years.  After the noise and disturbances of Leiston during the Sizewell B construction, moving to Aldringham offered a magical world, especially at night.  The splendour of the Milky Way still shines overhead, and several species of lowland rare bat, plus threatened hedgehogs, hares, bees, birds, and the nearly extinct glow-worm and stag beetle, can all still manage to live here. 

Walking to school in Knodishall with my children was always particularly lovely in spring.  We’d pass through Aldringham Wood, along Fitches’ Lane in bloom, with hawthorn and blackthorn hooped over us, and nightingales singing around us. Aldringham Wood has been one of their remaining habitats, and my daughter, who is a singer, duets with them. 

Unsympathetic developments in the area have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years, but they are still there. What will really finish them off is Scottish Power's proposed cable corridor.  Fifty metres wide, twenty metres deep, it will fell the woods on either side of Aldeburgh Road, bisect the river, destroy the eastern end of ancient Fitches Lane and blight the houses alongside it, then bend south and run alongside what’s left of Fitches Lane, to save - not the wood nor the lane - but Knodishall sewage works. 

Trees cannot be planted atop the cables, because the trenches need to be easily reopened in future developments.  So, a chunk of Aldringham Wood will be gone forever.  Security lighting will destroy the habitat of those creatures that need dark skies.  Digging up long undisturbed earth means no future for the invertebrates that rely on its habitat.  And constant noise, pollution and disruption will drive away day inhabitants.  Farewell to the stars, and goodbye to those animals that found one of their last refuges here.

When I spoke to Scottish Power about the at-risk wildlife in their path, they admitted they knew about the nightingales in Thorpeness, but not the rare species in Aldringham. No entomologist had been asked to survey the area.

We are warned that the UK is among the most nature-depleted countries on the planet, so why do we contemplate destroying one of the last sanctuaries, as if there are no alternatives?

As for the humans living alongside on Aldeburgh Road, in houses whose current selling point is their view across the field that’s designated for cables, a whole new industrial environment awaits. 

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