Calls to save Frays meadow

‘Pre­cious re­serves de­serve pro­tect­ing’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine

LON­DON Wildlife Trust has re­newed its plea against a pro­posed high speed rail (HS2) haul road.

Ex­perts re­peated their warn­ings that HS2’s pro­posed haul road, as part of their mit­i­ga­tions for the bor­ough, would slice through Hilling­don’s Frays Farm Mead­ows and Uxbridge Golf Course and ‘dev­as­tate’ lo­cal wildlife.

Mathew Frith of Lon­don Wildlife Trust, who pre­sented ev­i­dence at the House of Com­mons HS2 Se­lect Com­mit­tee, said: “The im­por­tance of Frays Farm Mead­ows for wild species, such as en­dan­gered wa­ter vole, can­not be over­stated.

“The Mead­ows are na­tion­ally im­por­tant and a des­ig­nated Site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est, one of only 37 in the en­tire Greater Lon­don re­gion.

“Wa­ter vole are now be­lieved to be ex­tinct in nearby Sur­rey, but they are able to thrive in Frays Farm Mead­ows be­cause of the rel­a­tively undis­turbed habi­tat and the many years of work that Lon­don Wildlife Trust and lo­cal vol­un­teers have put in to pro­tect the Mead­ows.”

HS2 had planned to route the new haulage road along the north east bound­ary of Frays Farm Mead­ows and into Uxbridge Golf Course.

But the HS2 Se­lect Com­mit­tee also heard pro­pos­als to re-route the road along a dis­used rail­way line that cuts right through the middle of the Mead­ows and along the bound­ary of Den­ham Lock Wood, an­other Site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est man­aged by the Trust.

The pro­posed haul road will con­nect with the east­bound slip road ad­ja­cent to the A40 at Swakeleys Road round­about, pass par­al­lel to The Drive, Ick­en­ham, with the north­ern sec­tion cut­ting through Uxbridge Golf Course and land to the west of Harvil Road.

Mem­bers of the The Drive and Hare­field Place Es­tate Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion pro­posed an al­ter­na­tive route for the road, ar­gu­ing HS2’s cur­rent so­lu­tion will cause ‘traf­fic chaos’.

The Trust warns that such a route would have even more im­pact than the al­ready dam­ag­ing north east­ern op­tion, cut­ting the Mead­ows in half and de­stroy­ing what is prob­a­bly the largest re­main­ing sedge fen in Lon­don, a rare wet graz­ing meadow that is home to wa­ter vole as well as snipe and slow-worm.

The old rail­way line also sup­ports large pop­u­la­tions of glow­worm, bee­tle lar­vae that emit a greeny-or­ange light on sum­mer nights.

The Trust leads guided walks to view the glow­worms and re­cently started work on im­prov­ing the rail­way em­bank­ment habi­tat for the bee­tles and their lar­vae. Since the 1950s, there has been ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing a de­cline in glow-worm pop­u­la­tions, not just in Bri­tain, but in the whole of Europe.

Mr Frith said: “We fully un­der­stand that lo­cal res­i­dents don’t want a busy haulage road im­pact­ing on their lives and prop­er­ties and we sup­port their ob­jec­tions to HS2 – but it is vi­tally im­por­tant that we do not lose Frays Farm Mead­ows and Den­ham Lock Wood to HS2.

“The Mead­ows aren’t some sort of val­ue­less waste­land.

“They are an ir­re­place­able rem­nant of a land­scape that dates back to me­dieval times, pro­vid­ing us with fresh air, help­ing to al­le­vi­ate flood­ing by soak­ing up ex­cess rain­wa­ter, and sus­tain­ing a won­der­ful ar­ray of wildlife.”

Mr Frith urges any­one who lives lo­cally to “pull on a pair of boots and take a leisurely stroll” through Frays Farm Mead­ows and Den­ham Lock Wood.

He added: “Th­ese pre­cious re­serves fully de­serve our pro­tec­tion and we will do our ut­most to en­sure that HS2 does not de­stroy them.”

n UN­DER THREAT: The wa­ter vole, a species which has made a come­back at Frays Farm Mead­ows Na­ture Re­serve

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.