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Battlemead Common ecological management plan revised

Published: Tuesday, 21st July 2020

A ‘master plan’ for Battlemead Common has been updated following an ecology report commissioned by the Royal Borough and produced by Austin Foot Ecology.

The original plan for the 110-acre piece of land off Lower Cookham Road was created in 2020 after consultation and sets out to achieve a balance between protecting and enhancing the wildlife and biodiversity of the site, and enabling residents and visitors to enjoy the area.

The updated plan includes measures to enhance and protect wildlife, including nesting and wintering birds, while also giving greater public access to the area.

Several measures will be implemented throughout the year, starting this month, and signage will be updated to reflect the changes. These include:

  • A new footpath will be open to the public in the East Field, running parallel to the River Thames.
  • A new dog-proof fence and native hedgerow will separate this footpath from the rest of the East Field which will remain closed to the public in order to protect the field’s wildlife.
  • The causeway which runs through the East Field will be open from March to October as a permitted footpath with a dog-proof fence running along both sides to prevent access to the wetland areas.
  • The causeway will be closed from October to March to prevent disturbance of overwintering wildfowl in the area.
  • Dogs will be allowed off the lead year-round in the West Field, but in all other areas of the site that are open to the public, dogs will always need to be kept on the lead.
  • The Willow Woodland area in the southern part of the common will remain closed to the public - opening it would require the installation of a footpath and associated tree clearance which would adversely affect the wildlife in the area and significantly reduce its biodiversity value.

Councillor Donna Stimson, lead member for environmental services, climate change, sustainability, parks and countryside, said: “I am pleased this report plans for biodiversity net gain, while also allowing more people to experience the beauty of Battlemead Common.

“We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful habitat like this on our doorstep. We must do all we can to preserve and enhance the wildlife that currently occupy it, while also allowing residents to enjoy the area. I anticipate that walkers and those with dogs will respect the separate wildlife spaces, now that they have increased access. It is critical that dogs are not allowed to negatively impact on wildlife. I believe this fairer approach will encourage compliance, and all groups will be able to work together to protect the area.”  

The Ecological Management Plan, prepared by Austin Foot Ecology, will be carefully monitored and reviewed after one year.

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