Barclay Bros colonize Sark

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at
Thu May 9 22:12:38 BST 2013

> From: Susan Synnott [mailto:synnott at]
> Sent: 25 November 2012 10:47
> To: Enquiries
> Subject: Sark, Channel Islands
> Dear Sir/Madam,
> Why I am writing to you now is because I thought you might be  
> interested to hear about what is happening on Sark in the Channel  
> islands.  Plantlife took great interest in the island in the late  
> 1990s because of the existence of Filago gallica here, which, as  
> you know, is extremely rare. I may add that it is still doing well  
> and is not threatened by the vineyards to which I refer to in the  
> following paragraph.
> The Barclays brothers (owners of the Ritz Hotel, London and the  
> Daily Telegraph etc) own a lot of property on Sark since 2007.  In  
> 2010 under their company Sark Estate Management (SEM) they started  
> to plant vines.    Some of these vineyards were on very good  
> grazing land where a large number of plants had been recorded in  
> previous years.   On Good Friday 2011 they cleared more land for  
> vines, destroying nesting habitat for breeding birds. The cleared,  
> charred  area was not very inviting to tourists or wild flower  
> walkers at the start of our spring wild flower fortnight. By late  
> 2011 14 fields had been planted, but concern really set in when in  
> September this year planting of more vines recommenced at a  
> tremendous rate.  We found it hard to keep pace with it all.  In  
> the last few weeks at least another 12 fields have been planted or  
> prepared for vines.  Sark farmers have lost or are losing some of  
> their land because in Sark most farmers don’t own their land but  
> rent/lease it from others on a sort of ‘gentleman’s agreement’  
> usually, as was the traditional way of doing things.  Also horses  
> are vital for our tourism industry because we don’t have cars and  
> one of the ways tourists get around is by horse and carriage.  But  
> some of the carriage owners will be squeezed out, if this continues  
> from lack of grazing land.  Apart from the loss of land for farmers  
> there will be a loss of diversity as it could seriously disturb or  
> destroy the balance in Sark’s ecosystem.  If 250,000 vines are  
> planted, as is SEM’s aim, on the plateau of Big Sark only  
> (fortunately, they own no land on Little Sark) you can imagine what  
> change this will bring on the whole environment.  Tourists visit  
> Sark for its traditional rural landscape, but we seem to be heading  
> towards a monoculture on a large scale.  At the moment there seems  
> to be very little we can do as there are no laws to stop people  
> doing what they like on their land.  Sark residents are also  
> worried about their water supply in the long term, as our water  
> source is either from boreholes or wells, if they spray the amount  
> of copper sulphate that seems to be needed for vines.  Anyone who  
> speaks out against them is vilified in their weekly Sark  
> Newsletter.  Sark is equated with 1930s Germany as being the  
> equivalent of a Fascist State.  It is all really horrible.  Our  
> little peaceful island is in a bit of a fix at the moment;  
> hopefully a compromise or a solution can be reached, but it is hard  
> to see that when we are dealing with big money.
> The attached Press Release on 1st November sparked a protest in the  
> island of Sark attended by 115 residents. This took place on  
> Saturday 3rd November at the Mill, in the centre of the island and  
> adjacent to a field recently turned over from cattle pasture into a  
> vineyard. Various concerned residents spoke out against the  
> continued planting of yet more grapevines by the Barclay Brothers  
> through their company, Sark Estate Management. This was followed by  
> a petition headed “We call on SEM to halt present work and  
> reconsider the agricultural plans and priorities for the land in  
> Sark”. It was  signed by 125 residents and sent to Kevin Delaney,  
> project manager of SEM and copies were also sent to Sir Frederick  
> and Sir David Barclay in Brecqhou.
> In view of the fact that there are 470 residents on the electoral  
> roll and the petition was signed by 125 of them, we feel this  
> deserves a wider audience.  The entire effort of the Press Release,  
> the protest and the petition were directed against the increasing  
> number of vineyards and the consequent change to the landscape and  
> loss of biodiversity.
> Yours faithfully,
> Susan Synnott
> (for the Botany section of La Societe Sercquaise)
> -- 
> Please note I have moved to Frome - new contact details are given  
> below.
> Sue Everett
> Technical Adviser to Flora locale
> 23 Stonewall Terrace
> Frome
> Somerset BA11 5AX
> Land: 01373 472656
> Mob: 07779 204015
> Email: sueeverett.floralocale at
> Web:
> -- 
> Sue Everett MIEEM, PG Dip Arch: AEES
> Ecology and Sustainability Consultant
> Editor: Conservation News, British WIldife
> Tel: +44 (0) 1373 472656
> Mob: 07779 204015
> Email: at
> W: and
> British Wildife:
> -- 
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