Tuesday 28th August 2012
For immediate release
Westfield Common: Need for Positive Management
Westfield Common is an area of mixed grassland, woodland and ponds, which is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). The Common has been left virtually unmanaged for the last 30 years, and Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) has been in discussion with Woking BC for some time regarding the duty that the Council have to return the whole of Westfield Common into positive management.
As part of these discussions, SWT was contracted to survey a part of the Common adjacent to the proposed land swap area and develop a Management Plan for that area. We carried out this work, which reinforced our view of the need for positive management of the site, but we declined a follow-on request to contract to undertake the management of this small part of the Common, because we firmly believe that the Council should return the whole of the Common to positive management for the benefit of wildlife and local residents.
In parallel with this, our Environmental Groups Officer has been actively working with the Westfield Common Residents’ Association to organise working parties to tidy and improve areas of the Common.
We had previously commented on the relative quality of the land being proposed as Common land replacement, at the time of the initial inquiry. We did not change our position, which in essence was that the land being offered in exchange could not be considered as equivalent ecological quality, since it was not SNCI land.
Subsequently, we were asked by Woking BC to contract to manage the restoration and on-going management of the whole of the Common, but this contract was conditional on the proposed land swap being approved. We agreed to this contract, since we felt that, in the event that the land swap did go ahead, then the interests of the Common’s wildlife and the local residents would be best served by SWT managing the restoration work.
Naturally, SWT would have preferred to contract with Woking BC to undertake the restoration and management of the whole Common without it being conditional on the land swap. Now that the land swap has not been approved, we will be continuing our discussions with Woking BC to see if an alternative agreement can be reached.
For more information please contact:
Rachel Thomson, Media & Communications Executive, tel 01483 795469, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
1. Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) is a registered charity and the only organization concerned solely with the conservation of all forms of wildlife in Surrey. We manage over 80 reserves, have over 30,000 members and each year our Education team engages with over 15,000 children and young people across Surrey. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Partnership between Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust to manage the entire 10,000 acres of the SCC Countryside Estate; during that time SWT has increased volunteering and funding income and made significant enhancements for the benefit of wildlife and the thousands of people that visit these SCC owned sites. Further information can be found on our website www.surreywildlifetrust.org
2. SWT shares the vision of a “Living Landscape” with its fellow wildlife trusts. Living Landscapes aims to combine existing, and create new, wildlife habitats. It will restore large-scale, ecologically functioning open space networks to enable plants and animals to move and adapt. Living Landscapes will connect existing to new natural areas of wildlife value by creating wildlife corridors and buffer zones. In the countryside our special wildlife sites will be linked mainly across open farmland, and in urban areas via gardens, schools and community recreation grounds.
3. There are 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the whole of the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney, working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. With 670,000 members, it is the largest UK voluntary organization dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species. Collectively, the Trusts also manage more than 2,500 nature reserves spanning over 80,000 hectares. For further information please visit www.wildlifetrusts.org