Residents ask nature reserve questions in Stafford

Plans for Stafford Borough’s latest nature reserve are being developed – and residents have posed questions about how it will be managed.

Land off Fairway in Stafford which is set to be designated as a local nature reserve. Photo: Google
Land off Fairway in Stafford which is set to be designated as a local nature reserve. Photo: Google

Stafford Borough Council agreed in August to turn a 42-acre section of floodplain meadow next to Fairway into a Local Nature Reserve.

A management plan is now being drawn up for the land near Stafford town centre and proposals include restoring native black poplars to the riverside, developing flower meadows and enhancing wetland scrapes.

At the latest full borough council meeting it was revealed that the reserve had also been earmarked for a new memorial woodland to commemorate those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And a number of residents asked for further details about the reserve’s future management.

Diana Smith asked: “How does the council intend that this project will be managed and what plans are there for informing and involving the public in this?”

Simon Mountford asked: “What measures are going to be put in place to enable access to this Local Nature Reserve for those with mobility issues and how will the issue of dog fouling be addressed, especially since there are cattle grazing in the fields?”

Claire Bacon asked: ”What action will be taken to remove to unblock the river of fallen trees and how does the council propose to remove the Himalayan Balsam and control its future growth?”

And Janet Hastilow asked: “Why is the established woodland area opposite to the proposed Local Nature Reserve not included in this proposal? This land is full of wildlife and unsuitable for building as it floods and residents believe there is a covenant on this land.”

Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment, responded: “A management plan for the new Local Nature Reserve is currently being prepared. An assessment of the different habitats found on site will look at how management can best be carried out to provide optimum conditions for wildlife. Tree and scrub management will be included within the new plan.

“Many of the objectives for the site are long-term and with at least a 10-year development phase. Once completed, the management plan will be posted on the council’s website. An information sign will also be installed at the site entrance.

“There is a lot of interest in the area from existing community groups, the developer of the new housing estate and other organisations. Volunteer work parties will be arranged through links with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in due course.

“The Stafford Brooks funding application does include plans for better access to the Local Nature Reserve, including those with mobility issues, however it should be recognised that most of the site is within the floodplain and that flooding can make access difficult.

“After consulting with the grazier there are currently no issues with dog fouling. If an adverse situation does develop then it can be addressed through appropriate signage and provision of dog bins.

“The (woodland) referred to was not available to be included as part of the proposed Local Nature Reserve as its potential future use is part of a current corporate review of the council’s assets and potential enhancements that could be made to service provision. The land is registered to the council and there are no covenants registered against the title.”

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