RHS Wisley accuses Highways England of land grab over plan to widen

first_imgAerial view of RHS WisleCredit:Invicta Kent Media/REX/Shutterstock The Walled Garden at RHS Garden Wisley “Wisley is the UK’s centre of excellence for horticulture and horticultural science and helps millions of people to garden and grow plants.”I’m calling on the UK’s army of 27 million gardeners to make it known that a disregard for these important trees and lack of appreciation of the national importance of this garden would not be acceptable if the short-sighted and environmentally damaging option was chosen.”Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said the charity was investing £70 million at the gardens in horticulture, new laboratories and visitor facilities.”It would be criminal for this irreplaceable woodland to be lost when another viable plan would avoid cutting down these century-old trees and still meet the important need to widen the A3,” she said.The role the trees play in mitigating pollution, providing habitat for wildlife and creating a noise and visual barrier must not be underestimated, she added, warning the noise of the A3 without them could impact on visitors and the future of the garden. Five trees identified as “threatened and endangered in cultivation” and huge giant redwoods would be lost if the scheme went ahead, the charity said.The RHS is urging Government agency Highways England to choose the option on the east side, which it said would not take any woodland or fell trees at Wisley. It would also provide better road access to the gardens, which get 1.2 million visitors a year, the charity said. Aerial view of RHS Wisle Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Highways England said the RHS was presenting the “worst case scenario” as if there had been no mitigation and insisted that they took their environmental responsibilities “very seriously”.A spokesman said the current access road to Wisley was “not particularly safe” and often caused traffic to queue onto the A3.The agency has proposed to close that road and build a new access road half a mile down the road as part of improvements to junction 10 of the M25.It is expecting to announce its preferred route within the next month, which is the “starting gun on the planning process.”After that, a detailed design will be submitted to the planning inspectorate before there is another public consultation.Work is not due to start before 2020. The Royal Horticultural Society has warned that one of the UK’s most popular gardens faces losing acres of woodland in a “criminal garden grab” by Highways England.Plans to widen the A3 could result in the loss of 500 trees at RHS Wisley in Surrey, including one planted by the Queen to mark her silver jubilee, and some that are more than 100 years old, it has claimed.RHS ambassador Alan Titchmarsh has called on the UK’s army of gardeners to oppose the plans, saying: “We must stand together and protect our gardens.”The RHS said there were two options to widen the A3, one on the road’s east side, and one on the west alongside the century-old garden.The west option would take out the protective bank of trees which separates the busy road from the trials field where varieties of blooms are assessed, as well as part of the woodland garden, worsening noise and air pollution at the garden. The Walled Garden at RHS Garden Wisley Titchmarsh said: “This potential garden-grabbing plan would be another unacceptable example of this Government’s poor perception of horticulture and lack of appreciation of the vital role that plants play for the environment, for the nation’s health and well-being and for the UK economy.last_img read more

Royal Opera House to go ahead with Placido Domingo performances in wake

Placido Domingo laughs with members of the Rockettes at New York's Radio City Music Hall, 1984 Placido Domingo laughs with members of the Rockettes at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, 1984Credit:AP Placido Domingo conducts at a Metropolitan Opera Rehearsal “Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable – no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions.”I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.”However, I recognize that the rules and standards by which we are – and should be – measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards.” “However, we have a zero tolerance policy towards harassment of any kind and recently refreshed our code of conduct to ensure all staff and visiting artists abide by the rules at all times. “We also have a Safeguarding Manager to enforce compliance, as well as an anonymous whistleblowing service to ensure that any incidents of misconduct are escalated and independently investigated. “Anyone at the Royal Opera House who feels they have experienced harassment is able to report it safely in the knowledge that it will be investigated and due process followed in every case.”The updated code of conduct was issued in March to all staff and visiting artists. In a statement issued earlier this week, Domingo said: “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate. A Royal Opera House production of Don Carlo in 2013 A Royal Opera House production of Don Carlo in 2013 The Royal Opera House is to go ahead with planned star appearances from Plácido Domingo, despite American opera houses cancelling in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. The Covent Garden opera house said it had “not been made aware” of any accusations relating to the tenor’s time as an artist or conductor at the venue. Citing a “zero tolerance policy towards harassment of any kind”, it nevertheless confirmed that planned performances of Don Carlo in June and July next year would go ahead with Domingo playing Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa. Two US opera houses, the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera, have already cancelled performances by Domingo after the Associated Press published accusations of sexual harassment made by numerous women against him.The Los Angeles Opera opened an investigation into alleged events occurring during his time there. Domingo, 78, has rejected the allegations, calling them “deeply troubling and, as presented, inaccurate”. Placido Domingo conducts at a Metropolitan Opera RehearsalCredit:Getty Coming from eight singers and a dancer, all but one of whom are anonymous, the accusations span three decades and range from unwelcome touching to putting pressure on them to have sex.The Associated Press, which compiled the accounts, said that after decades of silence, women felt emboldened by the Me- Too movement which began in 2017 as an attempt to tackle sexual misconduct in the workplace.Domingo is due to appear at the Royal Opera House next summer for Sir Nicholas Hytner’s production of Don Carlo, a collaboration with Norwegian National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The tenor made his Royal Opera debut as Cavaradossi (Tosca) in 1971 and has since sung 27 roles for the company.His latest appearances there saw him conduct Tosca in 2017/18, and sing Giorgio Germont in La traviata in 2018/19 last year. Asked about his upcoming performances, a spokesman for the Royal Opera House said: “The ROH has not been made aware of any accusations pertaining to Placido Domingo’s time as a visiting artist or conductor.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more