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Community asked for feedback on Towcester Watermeadows

Author: Gavin Moore Published: 6th April 2017 16:56
Ed Potter, SNC’s head of environmental services said: “The Watermeadows allows a previously confined area of the town to breathe. Town centre visitors have somewhere to walk off a good meal; near-by residents have an open and safe place to exercise their dogs, and schools have somewhere to learn about nature.Ed Potter, SNC’s head of environmental services said: “The Watermeadows allows a previously confined area of the town to breathe. Town centre visitors have somewhere to walk off a good meal; near-by residents have an open and safe place to exercise their dogs, and schools have somewhere to learn about nature.

As spring unfolds South Northamptonshire residents are being asked how they would like to grow plans for Towcester’s grade II listed Watermeadows.
 
In 2009 South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) and its partners bought the Watermeadows from the Easton Neston Estate as part of the Moat Lane Regeneration Project.
 
Since then the Watermeadows have undergone a light restoration to improve habitats and access. It has also become a popular dog walking spot and a haven for wildlife.
 
SNC has now joined forced with landscape and ecology specialists, the Red Kite Network, to draw up a 15 year management and maintenance plan.
 
Ed Potter, SNC’s head of environmental services said: “The Watermeadows allows a previously confined area of the town to breathe. Town centre visitors have somewhere to walk off a good meal; near-by residents have an open and safe place to exercise their dogs, and schools have somewhere to learn about nature.
 
“It is a public asset and before we lay out plans for its future, we need reliable information on how often people use it and why. And perhaps more importantly, why people don’t use it.”
 
A public consultation on the Watermeadows opens on Monday, 10 April 2017 and people are being urged to complete an online survey which asks if they use the Watermeadows, and how they use it.
 
Work carried out recently includes the felling and trimming of several trees to ensure the safety of the public, and the Watermeadows are no longer used to graze cattle.
 
Last month SNC officers and representatives from Red Kite began the consultation process by outlining the methods they will use to draw up the management plan to members of Towcester Town Council, Towcester Wildlife Trust, Towcester Evening WI, South Northants Leisure Trust and the Environment Agency.
 
The survey closes at midnight on Sunday, 23 April 2017, to take part visit - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TheWatermeadows_survey.
 
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Comments

Nick H
At 17:23 on 6th April 2017, Nick H commented:
The area has been popular for dog walkers, certainly, at least when the cows are not on their, but the stated aims of improving biodiversity were never achieved. Far from it.

In reality, the wildlife was actually being systematically destroyed by over-grazing. It certainly isn't a 'haven for wildlife' now. Much of the 'haven' has actually been removed, and what wildlife there is there is predominantly around the edges of the fields where SNC, and the cows, have not reached.

Too many people seem to think that, because it is 'green', and not covered in tarmac and concrete, that it is a good area for wildlife. It isn't. In general, wildlife does not prefer tidy, open spaces, but lots of plant variety and cover for protection. The water meadows offers none of this.

As for 'no longer used to graze cattle' ... I understood this was for 1 year only, and some cattle grazing can be a good way to manage the site as it is for other areas, just don't over-graze it as before. Even the Wildlife Trust support that minimal sort of grazing.

And plans for removing a fallen tree because it doesn't look nice does more harm than good for wildlife. It is a valuable habitat that, if humans weren't involved, would remain in situ (whether it made a sound or not). It certainly cannot fall any further, so I don't know what safety concerns there may be, unless being used as a climbing frame is bad, but then perhaps we need to look at all trees, and also playgrounds, for the same reason.

Clearly my passion for wildlife is showing through in my comments, and clearly that view won't be shared by everybody. I would love it to be a wildlife haven, and there was, and is, scope to do this. However, I fear that many would prefer it for humans, and to be tidy, but let us not confuse what that means. A wildlife haven it certainly is not.

Nick Holder

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