Countess Sondes, whose interest in a non-food crops centre sparked the project that appears to have become Wye Park, has written to save-wye to clarify some of the comments made in the Sunday Times and repeated here. Since her involvement in the project appears to be so key, we feel you should see this as a separate article, not simply a response to other comments.
While we appreciate Countess Sondes taking the time to write to save-wye, several aspects of this project still seem to be somewhat unclear, not least her statement that the siting of the non-food crops institute is still in the planning stages… and could be in the UK or abroad. We feel sure the residents of Wye would also like to know how she feels about the principle of allowing commercial development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which Imperial seem to feel is a prerequisite of the plan. We will happily run any further comments from her on these issues here.
Countess Sondes writes…
- The proposed International Centre for Non-Food Crops is totally independent. We are not involved in any plans for development at the Imperial College Wye Campus. However, we have had preliminary discussions with Imperial College about the possibility of co-locating with them. It is my understanding that Imperial College is yet undecided as to whether it will put forward a planning application for a Science Park and Housing Development at Wye. Where the International Centre for Non-Food Crops is eventually sited is still in the planning stages — it could be in the UK or abroad.
- The International Centre for Non-Food Crops will not be involved directly in research.
- The International Centre for Non-Food Crops will not be limited to the area of bio-fuels. We believe other uses of crops will be central to our work including industrial, pharmaceutical, neutraceutical and personal care.
- Discussion about an International Centre for Non-Food Crops began at a dinner in New York for African Parks hosted by Paul Van Vlissingen and Richard Burge.
- My quote of “once in a life-time opportunity” relates to the opportunity that exists today to bring change using non-food crops and working with the infrastructure of the United Nations in helping the developing world and lessening dependence on fossil fuels. There is a strong view we are looking at the “next revolution in agriculture”. The “once in a life time opportunity” was not intended to relate to the Science Park at Wye.
- We are in discussion with the United Nations and the World Bank. This is a very ambitious project and is in the early stages of discussion.
- I would never think of this project as anything other than “our project” as opposed to “my project” as I have worked closely with many extremely talented and committed people.
- I have no financial gain from developing this Centre.
The Countess Sondes