Deer to 'disappear' through heath plan at Brownhills Common

More heathland is set to be created at Brownhills Common, it was revealed today, sparking fears it could drive deer away.

Plans have been unveiled to increase the amount of heathland from 36 per cent to 60 per cent.

But it has sparked concern from some Brownhills residents, who believe it may mean the loss of woodland. They claim deer currently hide in the trees on the common and creating more heathland could mean they move somewhere else.

Walsall Council has teamed up with Natural England to increase the amount of lowland heathland at the site, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, over the next decade.

Chiefs insist no mature native trees will be chopped down and say existing woodland will be reduced by less than half, meaning some scrub, conifer trees and bramble will make way.

Barrie Poxon, vice chairman of the Local Brownhills Committee, said some residents were starting a petition against the move.

"Some people in Brownhills do not want to see this reduced to heathland, we want to see it stay as it is," said the 72-year-old.

"For a start off the deer will disappear. The common is well-used by families and people out walking their dogs and the deer tend to hide behind the trees. We're very proud to have deer in Brownhills.

"Also with heathland, you won't be able to see the changes of the season like you can with trees. When the snow comes, the trees look beautiful."

Currently, around 30 acres of Brownhills Common is covered in heathland with the rest made up of woodland, grassland, scrub and paths. But Walsall leisure chief Anthony Harris said the borough should count itself lucky to have lowland heathland, which is considered a "rare and threatened habitat".

"By increasing the area of heathland it provides an opportunity for people to catch sight of rare plants and animals which thrive in this environment on their doorstep and will also potentially attract large numbers of people from further afield to visit Walsall," he said.

"The aim is to increase the area of heathland by removing certain areas of trees and scrub that have either been planted and/or have colonised the site over the years."

A consultation will take place before any work begins, with the Forestry Commission having to give final approval. The plans were being discussed tonight by the Brownhills, Pelsall, Shelfield, Rushall and Brownhills partnership.

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