I read what I thought was quite an interesting article in yesterday's Telegraph. Apparently an aged supporter of the RSPB in the vicinity of Congleton, a Mrs Lavinia Reade by name, decided to leave some twenty acres of farmland to the charity. It is reported that it was her dying wish that the land should never be built on. She wanted it to be used for the benefit of wildlife.
The land seems to have had a probate valuation of £60,000 at the time of the donor's death, (2001). A generous bequest one might think. However the RSPB is now reported to be working with developers to urge Cheshire East Council to permit the lands to be developed for housing. This could result in the charity banking upwards of six million pounds albeit that the action flies in the face of the donor's wishes. It does seem strange that Mrs Reade could not have more effectively ensured that her land would remain a haven for wildlife. One would think that she could have imposed suitable conditions on the gift. It would then have been up to the RSPB to accept the conditions or disclaim the gift.
The newspaper report is not as full as it might be but on the face of it the gamekeeper seems to have turned poacher. That said are the RSPB's actions after all to be applauded because it will be able to do so much with a six million pound windfall? A small sacrifice for a big overall gain? The moral maze.