With the release of Saved, the book of the glorious Wye campaign, our job here is finally done. There will be no more articles — and this time we mean it. Our thanks go out to all of you who’ve helped, particularly the many who had to do so anonymously. It was a fine victory, and one we trust will give hope to others in similar situations, in both urban and rural locations.
For those of you who want a flavour of the book, you will find some comments on it from a few well-known figures below, and at the foot of this article the entire foreword by Roy Greenslade, the leading media commentator and Professor of Journalism at City University, London, whose concise, frank summary of this story is an admirable starting point for anyone new to the Wye saga.
Copies of the book can also be ordered online here. Thank you all… and now goodnight.
Robin Page, the countryside writer and broadcaster who was for many years the host of One Man and his Dog, has also been very supportive of the project since the outset. He says of the book, ‘David Hewson writes thrillers. Saved is a real life thriller, exposing the sham of “local democracy”. A must for all those wanting to save their countryside and communities from the concrete mixers and the planning fixers.”‘
Jonathon Porritt, the well-known environmentalist who is now Founder Director of Forum for the Future, writes, ‘This is a fascinating book, full of insights into the workings of local politics, new, web-based ways of campaigning, different environmental tactics, and institutions as powerful as they are unaccountable.
‘As a result of a wonderfully effective campaign, this little corner of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent is safe for now. But as the author himself points out, the agents of the kind of wholly unsustainable development that is still eroding our countryside will never give up and never go away. With local democracy in such a state of disrepair, in so many parts of the land, many more battles of this kind will still need to be fought.’
Shaun Spiers, chief executive, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said, ‘Imperial College’s science park plan for Wye was in essence a smash and grab operation, designed to let the university cash in on its greenfield AONB landholding around a beautiful Kent village.
That it failed was largely thanks to the website save-wye, the brief but gripping history of which is chronicled in this book. We in CPRE were delighted to offer the local campaigners help and support.
There is much in Saved to worry countryside campaigners, but also much to cheer them. The role of the local council is depressing, as is the failure of most local media to question the developer’s official line.
Yet the book also shows that schemes such as Wye Park can be defeated, however impressive their official backing, and that journalism and the democratic process in their truest forms can triumph when the established media and body politic have gone bad.’
Professor Roy Greenslade, former editor of the Daily Mirror, and now Professor of Journalism at City University, London, and one of the country’s leading media commentators, has kindly contributed the foreword to the book.
In it he writes, ‘…this is not a story about Nimbyism. It is about right versus wrong; about transparency versus secrecy; about truth versus lies; about democracy versus authoritarianism.’
You can read this as a pdf file available below (60K). Just a reminder that, if you find yourself in the village, copies of Saved will usually be available in both Wye News and the New Flying Horse, and at the Timber Batts in Bodsham, as well as through the usual book trade channels. It’s a lovely village to visit…still.