Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the NOW News - Dec 4, 2007

Mitigation won't stop damage to Bog?
British environmentalists spreading word in Europe

Tom Zytaruk, Surrey Now

A British environmentalist is adding his voice to concern over the impact the controversial Gateway transportation project will have on Burn's Bog.

Frank Mawby, recently retired Nature Reserve manager with English Nature, has toured Burns Bog and has decided to add his "small voice" to concerns about the threat the South Fraser Perimeter Road poses to it. He raised the issue of the SFPR at an environmental conference in France recently. Mawby, a consultant with expertise in peat bogs and countryside management, first heard about Burns Bog through local environmentalist Eliza Olson during a conference in Edinburgh.

"There are a whole range of damaging impacts to the bog that cannot be addressed by mitigation measures to the hydrology and ecology in the construction methods," he said of the SFPR. "Indeed mitigation measures in themselves acknowledge that damage will occur regardless of any claim that they are beneficial." Mawby noted that, with the construction of the SFPR, there will be an "almost complete concrete/tarmac cordon" around the bog. Not only will the road cut the bog off from the Fraser River, he noted, if it's illuminated at night, the light will have "a damaging impact" on nocturnal invertebrates and mammals. Smoking motorists will pose a greater fire risk to the bog by tossing butts out their windows.

The issue of public access to the bog, he added, should be re-addressed as so much of the bog is closed to hikers now. "In Europe, we have come to realize that public appreciation of nature is vital for political and financial support," Mawby said. England's "most precious sites," he added, "have some form of public access and more importantly educational use.

"Burns Bog has vast potential for public appreciation and education but it needs to be developed with care and sensitivity alongside the bog conservation work," Mawby observed. "The site is so close to an urban area and the opportunity should not be missed."

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