Fwd: Damage to Henfield Common archaic grassland: Football pitch project
Can you help please with some quick survey work? The site is horribly obvious when you get close...brown and dying...
I sent the letter BELOW to the Henfield Parish Council clerk today. I only heard of this football pitch project today in the WSx County Times. Apparently it has been planned for a while and the plans passed and part-funded by Horsham DC and other funders.
Damage to archaic species-rich grassland at Henfield Common
Thank you for speaking to me on the phone today.
I re-visited the Common after our phone chat and was appalled.
The football pitch project area sprayed by
herbicide/gramicide takes in well over half of the area in which Chamomile,Chamaemelum nobile, is present. This is a rare and steeply
declining species and the number of Sussex sites where it naturally occurs is
now very small.
Its presence in quantity is one of the core nature conservation
features of the Common.
The area sprayed displays (in my short visit today) a number
of high nature value scarce plants, including Chamomile, Heath Spotted Orchis and Southern Marsh Orchis, Adder’s Tongue Fern, Marsh Pennywort, Common
Yellow Sedge, Oval Sedge, Hairy Sedge, Devil’s Bit, Tormentil, and Heath Speedwell.
In a single brief visit to the pitch project area in 2013 I recorded
six significant old meadow fungi species: two Fairy Clubs, a Pinkgill and
three Waxcap fungi. I suspect a
properly conducted survey for this group would record many more.
As I said to you, Henfield Common is largely an SNCI (Site
of Nature Conservation Interest). The area of the cricket pitch and the old
ball pitches (which are the subject of HPC’s project) was anomalously excluded
from the designated SNCI only because the appropriate surveys there had not then
been carried out. Subsequently, a survey of the cricket pitch for old meadow
fungi was conducted (about 15 years ago) and the cricket pitch proved to be the
richest site for old meadow fungi on the Common and one of regional value in
nature conservation terms for this assemblage.
Can you please tell me whether any Environmental Impact Assessment
was made of the football pitch project? If it was, would you be so kind as to
forward it to me?
I understand that drainage works are to undertaken (and
ditch ‘cleaning’ has recently taken place). Given that the core nature
conservation feature of the Common is its archaic acid marsh vegetation, further
drainage could be very detrimental.
Furthermore, the highly acidic Folkestone Beds surface geology
of the Common is what gives it its individual character. Semi-natural ‘moor’ vegetation
on the local Wealden Folkestone Beds is now very rare, and the loss of this
surface geology to new imported soils will thus damage the character and sense
of place of the whole Common.
I ask you, please, to secure the cessation of all further
activity pertinent to the football pitch project untilthese issues of nature conservation have been
addressed. This is a matter of urgency,