27 August 2010

We were asked to talk to Countryfile about the Big Chill and the effects on the natural environment in the Park as a result of the festival and camping. It was part of a John Craven investigation for the programme, and with over twenty years’ experience of looking at country issues for the BBC, John was likely to be a wise and perceptive interviewer.

The Park at Eastnor is in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and parts of it are within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, although the sensitive flora and fauna are not in the part used by the Big Chill. There is also a herd of red deer, which have traditionally grazed the grassland and sheltered amongst the oaks, but for health and safety reasons they are confined to an area outside the event and public camping sites. So Countryfile would have some pertinent questions to ask about the impact of the Chill, and how the park could recover after the event.

The Big Chill agreed to let the cameras in, and the festival director, Melvin Benn, gave the lead interview. He explained how the Chill was motivated to work as far as possible on green principles, maximising recycling and minimising its carbon footprint. He emphasised the effort made after the Festival to clear all litter and the Chill’s Leave no trace policy.

John then came to see me at the Castle, where we could see the site from a distance in the setting of the Malvern Hills. He arrived in an authentic VW Camperbus, a reminder that he had attended an early, if not the first, Glastonbury festival. We discussed how the ground recovered and also the positive economic impact of the Chill on Ledbury and Herefordshire in general. Luckily, Melvin and I seemed to say much the same, and the litter pickers have been covering the ground since the festival closed with Lily Allen’s closing performance on 8th August.

We look forward to the Big Chill’s return in 2011. 

To see the Countryfile progrramme click on to BBCi player -