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I will Look after it ….I Promise

When I first met my wife she couldn’t drive, she wasn’t that bothered about cars and was happy getting the bus everywhere. When she got pregnant* all this changed and she decided that she needed to pass her test and get her personal mobility and independence sorted. She passed first time – and then gave birth about four weeks later.

Once she was up and about she started to pester me for a car – finally deciding on a second hand Peugeot 205  – telling me that if I bought this for her she would…. ‘look after it, keep it clean, wash it weekly, check its tyres, fill the screen wash etc etc’ ….and like the fool that I am…I believed her.

Fast forward 26 years and a whole range of different cars – small ones, big ones, manual ones, automatic ones….she has never cleaned any of them, she regularly leaves litter and sweet wrappers on the floor, never fills the petrol tank, never fills the screen wash and has never any idea of when they are due for a service.

In her most recent car she even has a small tree growing in the gap between the bonnet and the base of the windscreen leading me to suggest that a ‘grounds maintenance’ contract might be more in order rather than a simple wax and polish.

So…what is the point that I’m trying to make here? Well what I’m trying to say is that – as with most things – it’s not just about ‘having’ something… it’s about how you look after it. With my cars for example – I clean and polish and wax and check tyres and fill screen wash weekly – it’s about ‘maintaining’ the quality of the vehicle.

With my garden at home I wage war on ground elder and hedge bindweed – both highly invasive species…. which …. if left unchecked will seriously take over your land. So every weekend I’m out there with gloves and sheers and chemicals…. all to try and tame the rampant vegetation that comes in from the adjacent neighbour’s garden. The adjacent land is owned by an elderly couple who have lost the will to battle against their encroaching jungle/garden and have left it to grow wild. They won’t sell the land and they won’t let me maintain the plot …so I’m up against a never ending supply of seed and root invading my land every day.

The majority of large land owners appear to fall into the ‘Pam Clough’ school of car maintenance. They’ve got it, they own it…but frankly they don’t really want anything to do with it unless it sits up and hits them in the face…

Land will not ‘look after itself’ – in fact land not looked after can become a huge liability. With the current spate of Invasive Non-Native Species that will quickly take over your ‘investment’ you need to be very careful about what you allow to establish on your land. I’m not suggesting that you sit around with a shotgun blasting away at anything that looks suspicious…but maybe once a year why not have somebody with a sharp eye look over your boundaries and check for Aliens!

Quite often it’s the adjacent property that you need to take a look at – perhaps your land is next to a railway or a river or ditch – any linear corridor is an ideal route for vegetation to migrate along. In fact it has been noted that ‘wildlife’ corridors – so beloved by nature enthusiasts – are a perfect route for invasive species to also travel along! The idea of wildlife corridors is to allow animals to cross fields and large open spaces along the route of a hedge or woodland – these corridors should ideally interconnect so that animals can get from point A to point B without ever being exposed….unfortunately these routes can also be a route for seed to be dispersed leaving a potential for the likes of Himalayan balsam to rapidly over take these pathways.

These invasions can be rapid and devastating – but also can be fairly easily stopped dead in their tracks if spotted early enough.

It should also be noted that you don’t just need to take my word for the seriousness of these issues – changes in legislation from January 2015 will mean that any invasive non-native species spotted on your land can be reported to the Environment Agency (EA) – should you then fail to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of the EA you could be served with a species control order (SCO).which will empower you to act. Failure to act on receipt of a SCO will result in the EA coming onto your land and taking action to remove the offending species – all costs would then be served on the land owner!

So don’t be a ‘Pam Clough’ be a ‘Mike Clough’ – be pro-active and look after your land….and don’t wait for a Species Control Order to be served on you!


Mike C


NB When I say ‘she got pregnant’…. obviously this wasn’t completely her doing