Wildlife presenter agrees to talk to England Golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2022 12:00

The wildlife broadcaster Chris Packham has agreed to talk to England Golf after sharing an image that appeared to call for golf courses to be built on.

Packham shared an Instagram post by Greenpeace UK on Twitter that stated: ‘Amount of land in the UK taken up by: Golf courses = 1,256 km² Solar farms = 230 km². If government ministers want to put our land to better use, why don’t they take a look at golf courses first?’ He added: ‘Simple story isn’t it. Bonkers isn’t it? Needs changing doesn’t it?’

However, several Twitter users replied stating that golf courses are typically wildlife havens, and that converting them into solar farms would destroy them.

For example, one recent Australian study found that golf courses contain flora and fauna that barely exist in neighbouring non-golfing green spaces, while a US study concluded that golf courses offer major benefits to their local environment, particularly surrounding temperatures, pollinating, retaining stormwater nutrients and biodiversity.

Owen James, England Golf’s sustainability officer, replied to him: ‘Research has shown that migratory birds use golf courses to help their journey. As someone whose job is sustainability in golf I’d love to chat further with you about this Chris, to show the opportunities golf possesses for wildlife and the benefits it gives the environment?’

Packham invited James to direct message him and said it would be good to talk. Another user wrote: ‘If golf courses go, it’s obvious they’ll potentially end up covered in concrete rather than offering a habitat to wildlife.’

Packham replied: ‘Who said anything about golf courses going? It doesn’t say that does it. What it says is that a leisure activity currently has more land devoted to it than a renewable energy source. No one is suggesting we put solar farms on golf courses…”

In 2016 the Financial Times ran a fact check on the claim that golf courses occupy two percent of all the land in England, nearly double that of housing, and concluded that there is a huge range of realistic estimates for how much golf course land occupies in England, but it is nowhere near that figure.

The claim was first made by housing consultant Colin Wiles in 2013 and publicised by Britain’s biggest housing charity Shelter.

The average 18-hole golf course uses up about 70 hectares of land – although some estimates put the figure at significantly lower than that – and if you multiply that by 2,000, which is a bit more than the number of 18-hole golf courses in England, the figure is 140,000 hectares – nearly half the figure of 270,000 hectares claimed by Wiles.

As the Financial Times stated: ‘Land taken up by houses is extremely likely to be considerably more than that occupied by golf courses.’


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 2, 2022 12:00
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  1. Wigan November 13, 10:46

    I would be very careful who you seek advise from!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Adventure Experience November 13, 01:15

    Who is going to tell him about the displacing of wildlife from a scheme like this? Golf courses are a haven for protected habitats.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Monticello November 5, 11:45

    I think this is great!

    Reply to this comment
  4. STRI November 5, 09:59

    Education is the key with these types of issues. Hopefully Chris will gain a valuable insight into the ecologically diverse conservation habitats golf courses provide. They can be a valuable green oasis within built up urbanised areas and perhaps the only sanctuary for some species. ⛳️

    Reply to this comment
  5. Wilthire concerned November 3, 12:22

    This reminds me of the problem of increasing obesity in the youth in our country since the county councils sold off so much of the school playing fields – possible short term advantage but long term loss!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Andy F November 3, 12:18

    Good Luck with that. You don’t have a conversation with CP

    Reply to this comment
  7. Kenny November 3, 09:24

    The Vale of Llangollen GC is located in An Area of Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site. We have solar panels on the clubhouse roof, nature areas on the course and the River Dee runs alongside several holes.
    We have a long list of mammals and birds that live on the course.
    Concrete is a No, No.

    Reply to this comment
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