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The butterfly that stamped… Buglife sees off Royal Mail at West Thurrock?

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

The most ironic marketing gaffe ever, and then an apparent u-turn by Royal Mail: did plucky little conservation charity Buglife really pull off this campaign coup? For those who haven’t been keeping up, see this post – or here’s a summary: Royal Mail have been planning to build a depot on a marshland full of scarce invertebrates in West Thurrock, and invertebrate charity Buglife has been campaigning to stop them. But a High Court bid by the charity to have the development halted was rejected in February. Buglife have been considering whether or not to appeal.

Spider stamp © Buglife

Buglife made their own alternative stamps showing species threatened by the Royal Mail development

Today, ironically, the Royal Mail has released a new set of first-class stamps featuring… wait for it… endangered invertebrates. With remarkable alacrity Buglife responded with a campaign leaflet entitled Stop them Stamping out our Wildlife! and set of alternative stamps showing species threatened by the proposal at West Thurrock. Amazingly, it seems that this campaign has been successful. The Telegraph reports today:

In a surprise move Royal Mail said it would not now be moving to the site on marshes beside the River Thames at Thurrock in Essex and that it had been looking at alternatives for several months. …in a statement Royal mail said: “Royal Mail does not have any plans to move on to the Oliver Road site owned by developers Rosemound at Thurrock Marshes and we have been looking at alternative sites for several months.” A Royal Mail source said they did not own the site and had not made the planning application.

Now obviously this does not mean the development won’t happen – just that Royal Mail seem to be trying to distance themselves from it. That doesn’t stop the landowner selling it to someone with fewer scruples. So Buglife are not resting on their laurels after this very public success: as well as confirming today that they will be appealing against the recent High Court decision, they bullishly point out on their website that Royal Mail’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Programme Manager have both stated recently that Royal Mail needs to move to the site in order to make way for the Olympics at their current site in east London. Buglife maintain that Royal Mail are “a continuing threat to the wildlife of this extraordinary site”.

Sitticus distinguendus © Bernd Krüger

This is a case that has implications well beyond this one site. Further, it seems to be a remarkable example of deft marketing and publicity having real results. Buglife are to be commended on their tenacity and resourcefulness. If you want to support them – join them. The Ranger is aware that at least three Ranger readers have joined up as a result of this case – would you?

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

One thought on “The butterfly that stamped… Buglife sees off Royal Mail at West Thurrock?

  • Fiona Scully

    Dear Buglife
    With regard to the proposed Royal Mail deveopment at Thurrock marshes, I was wondering if this site is protected and if not is Natural England going to get the site designated?

    I would be interested to know as I’m from that area and am even thinking of signing upto Buglife if they continue with such campaigns.

    Best wishes
    Fiona Scully


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