Posts Tagged ‘news’

Biodiversity News 45

13 May, 2009

Our rare butterfly project was covered in the latest Biodiversity News (See page 17).

That’s the newsletter for UKBAP, the UK’s biodiversity action programme. Marsh Fritillary, Small Blue and Chalkhill Blue are all butterflies we’re aiming to help in our new scheme. Read more at our website…


Conference blog

13 March, 2009

A new blog launched today for our very own, sustainable conference and wedding venue, the multi-award-winning Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre. No other conference venue is more organic, GM-free, seasonally catered, or unique!

Crane Workshops

4 December, 2008

The Cranes Workshops at Sheepdrove Organic Farm

Wind energy consultation events proved popular and helpful

cranes workshops went on until sunset

Taking a very alternative approach to wind energy, Sheepdrove Organic Farm recently held community consultation workshops with a difference. Two cranes were erected to show the maximum heights of a pair of turbines being considered by the business.

“The success of our crane workshops was to demonstrate our ideas in a meaningful way for our working community, neighbours and planning consultees,” announced Jason Ball, the manager responsible for alternative energy and biodiversity.

Range of opinion

“We are especially grateful to all 28 who participated in the community session. Unlike other local proposals, our ideas met with a very balanced range of opinion. Having listened to everyone we must now consider the feedback,” said Mr Ball.

“We can act constructively to satisfy the needs of horse riders, and we will continue to talk with planners and neighbours about other concerns, such as visual impact, the colour of the turbines, and so on, to solve as many issues as possible before an application. Staff resident at the farm will live and work closer to these windmills than anybody, so their opinions are perhaps also important.”

Good idea

Delegates – including Parish Council representatives and planning officers – praised Sheepdrove Organic Farm for their proactive consultation.

Clare Hardy at Newbury Weekly News reported a qoute from the Lambourn Parish Council chairman, Peter Iveson,”I think putting the cranes up was a good idea…”
“One of the cranes was visible on the skyline from Wantage Road in Lambourn, which could be a problem, but the views from all the other places we went to were OK.”

A member of Childrey Parish Council wrote in the Childrey and Sparsholt newsletter – “Great emphasis has been taken in restricting the impact on the landscape and ecology that wind energy installations would have, especially in view of the siting within an AONB.”

Mr Ball responds, “We are glad that our hard work since 2006 is appreciated. This includes independent landscape, archaeology, bat and bird reports to help us choose between many potential sites. We know of no other cranes days like ours – and we have not yet entered a Planning Application.”

“There’s nothing like seeing something in real life. We took stakeholders to view the locations from a range of viewpoints. Everyone who saw our cranes during the 2 days said they gained a better understanding of the scale and location of the two windmills we wish to install.”


The business, which has won awards for its sustainable conference venue, foods and farming, is situated on open downland. Locations need to be chosen carefully to avoid harm to the landscape character of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The farm aims to make a positive proposal that will be seen as a good example of sustainable development suited to the landscape. The recent wind energy ideas follow a 2006 case study, and consultation with the local authorities since.

“We invite all opinion, positive or negative, at the farm’s blog. The farm will publish a report about the cranes workshop after being checked by independent monitors,” said Jason.

LINK: Please visit the blog’s Wind Energy pages

white horse hill view to watchfield

Success at high court for Georgina Downs

15 November, 2008


Environmental campaigner Georgina Downs won an amazing legal victory yesterday to great acclaim. Mr Justice Collins, the High Court judge ruled that Ms Downs had produced “solid evidence” that residents had suffered harm. He said the government had failed to comply with a European directive to protect rural residents.

Throughout her 7 year campaign ( Ms. Downs has continued to present considerable evidence to the Government, its regulators, (the Pesticides Safety Directorate) and main advisors, (the Advisory Committee on Pesticides) regarding the lack of any protection for residents from pesticides.

Georgina’s relentless work exposed the Government’s “inherent fundamental failure” to protect rural residents and communities from exposure to toxic pesticides sprayed near homes, schools, children playgrounds and other premises.


The High Court Judgment from Mr. Justice Collins is very clear in that the Government has been acting unlawfully in its policy and approach in relation to the use of pesticides in crop spraying, and that public health, in particular rural residents and communities exposed to pesticides from living in the locality to regularly sprayed fields, is not being protected (and this applies to both acute effects and chronic long term adverse health effects).

The Judgment states, “The alleged inadequacies of the model and the approach to authorisation and conditions of use have been scientifically justified. The claimant has produced cogent arguments and evidence to indicate that the approach does not adequately protect residents and so is in breach of the Directive.”

The Judgment also states, “It is important to bear in mind that operators and workers are not the only individuals who are exposed to pesticides and, while their protection is of course most important, they can benefit from the use of protective clothing and other measures not available to residents. Some individuals may be particularly vulnerable (for example, the asthmatic, the elderly, children, pregnant women), but they must be protected too.”


Georgina Downs, speaking outside the High Court said, “I am obviously very pleased with today’s result, and have been fully vindicated, as this case was based on a set of core arguments that I identified and have been presenting to the Government over the last 7 years. The fact that there has never been any assessment of the risks to health for the long-term exposure for those who live, work or go to school near pesticide sprayed fields is an absolute scandal considering that crop-spraying has been a predominant feature of agriculture for over 50 years. Under EU and UK law the absence of any risk assessment means that pesticides should never have been approved for use in the first place for spraying near homes, schools, children’s playgrounds and other public areas.”

Find out more

In 2003, Ms. Downs produced a DVD that featured individuals and families from all over the country reporting acute and chronic long-term illnesses and diseases in rural communities surrounded by sprayed fields. Acute effects include rashes, itching, sore throats, burning eyes, nose, blistering, headaches, nausea, stomach pains, burnt vocal chords, amongst other symptoms. The most common chronic long-term illnesses and diseases reported include various cancers, especially breast cancer among rural women, neurological conditions, including ME, asthma and many other medical conditions. However, Government officials and advisors dismissed the content of the DVD and have continually failed to act on any of the evidence produced by Ms. Downs. (see ITN clips of the original spraying demo)

Yet today’s Judgment concludes that Ms. Downs had produced “solid evidence that residents have suffered harm to their health”, particularly in relation to acute effects, and that “a different approach” should have been adopted and accordingly there has “been both a failure to have regard to material considerations and a failure to apply the [European] Directive properly.”

What will Gordon Brown do?

Ms. Downs called on the Prime Minister to intervene and stop his Government appealing against the court’s decision. She stated, “I would now suggest that the Prime Minister himself sees the evidence I have presented in my case first hand without being told by his advisors that there is nothing wrong…”

Prince Charles renews attack on GM crops

6 October, 2008

HRH Prince Charles has delivered his most scathing attack yet on GM crops. He referred to scientific evidence that highlights factors such as cross-contamination by gm and the transfer of GM genes. Read more about the Prince of Wales’ speech for Navdanya at the GM Feeding the World blog.

How is your chicken reared and killed?

13 August, 2008

Sheepdrove organic chickens featured on BBC Radio 4

How your organic chicken is reared is probably easier to talk about than how it dies. Farming Today and Farming Today This Week looked into the way chickens are slaughtered in the UK. Radio 4’s Charlotte Smith came to see the processing unit at Sheepdrove Organic Farm, and watched what happened.

She was actually rather impressed with the way that we deal with chickens. It’s a hands-on job with lots of care and attention. Charlotte asked some very important questions at Sheepdrove and staff had no problem giving straightforward answers.

Colin Nicholl, who manages the processing unit, pointed out that the birds, after being hung by their legs on shackles, are not struggling but calm. We have a ‘comfort plate’ – a long, smooth surface the chickens stroke against as they move along the line – which helps to calm them.

Charlotte said, “I’ve never been to somehwere like this before, and I was actually, honestly, very surprised when we came in because, once they are in the shackles and they’re upside down, most of them are so still, I thought these ones were already dead.”

Sheepdrove Organic Farm have begun a cleaner chicken revolution by developing new technology that means birds come out with less bacteria on their skin. We have a more hygienic alternative to the ‘scald tank’ used by everyone else – we have a hotbox! Read what Guardian writer Felicity Lawrence thinks…

Sheepdrove Organic Farm kills its organic free-range chickens on the farm so they have an extraordinarily short journey from the field of about 1 mile. We also process chckens for other organic and free-range growers – nevertheless, ours is a small-scale abattoir. Whereas Sheepdrove deal with about 8,000 birds each week, Radio 4 also looked at a place that kills 3 million chickens per week!

You can listen again to this BBC Radio 4 programme. Here is the BBC iplayer link: 

Please explore our website where you can learn more about the farm animals at Sheepdrove and how we look after them. Our organic free-range chickens are at the forefront of good animal welfare, with Sheepdrove taking them beyond organic standards. These birds have special habitats, herbs and renewable energy provided!

Farmers Weekly SOS

1 August, 2008

“Save Our Sprays” – the plea from Farmers Weekly Magazine. Are they serious? Do the multinational chemical companies actually need a helping hand to fight against EU pesticide reform?

Poor old Monsanto and friends! In fact this review of harmful substances has been on the cards for a long time, so this latest bandwagonning seems rather desperate.

FW make big hypothetical statements “…the EU Commission could wipe out 80% of pesticides…” but other bodies reckon a 15% deselection of the most harmful compounds is more likely, leaving farmers with a considerable arsenal of poisons if they wish to use them. (UK agency the PSD made estimates ranging from 15% to 85%.)

But why the campaign to continue spraying a cocktail of biocides on our food, polluting people, water and soils? The Daily Mail recently quoted Prof Vyvyan Howard, toxico-pathologist at the University of Ulster, and a member of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides, who said, ‘It has been my position for many years that a precautionary reduction in the levels of the most hazardous pesticides by substitution makes good sense.’

Pesticides that could be banned include a family of fungicides used on cereals called triazoles thought to be hormone disrupters, a potato fungicide mancozeb linked to cancer, and the insecticide family of pyrethroids – which can affect the human nervous system.

Pesticides are a sort of addiction for the ‘modern farmer’ – a habit pushed by the chemical companies who sell them fertilisers too. Actually chemical fertilisers nowadays seem to be less and less economical and sustainable because they use so much fossil fuel. And their effect is often fast, sappy growth, making crops more vulnerable to attack from pests… which forces farmers to resort to pesticides as a matter of course.

If you would rather choose an organic future, take a look at our website and online shop.

> an interesting discussion about this recently on Radio 4.
> Blog site ‘Not Delia’ discusses the SOS campiagn