Saturday, 10 November 2012

Public Meeting 8.11.12


Ø  200 people attended the Public Meeting at St. Andrew's and St. Mark's Junior School Hall, 8.11.12. Unfortunately I arrived for the Q & A session and missed the preceding discussion. Several well considered questions are worth sharing. 

An audience member enquired if the site could be worthy of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on account of the ten bat species recorded (see previous post). The features at Seething Wells are of borough (plants) or regional (bats) importance but not of National Importance. 

A site can only be notified as a SSSI if it contains elements deemed to be of National Importance. A SSSI is usually notified on account of a recognisable plant community, forming a specialised suite of habitats and this would not usually be one based on artificial substrate. This was one of the reasons that Ham Lands were never considered suitable, in spite of its diverse range of plants including orchids. Most of the site was infill from bomb rubble and latterly road construction. 

For example our nearest SSSI’s are notified as follows: 

Richmond Park: Acid grassland communities occur in extensive parts of the park the dominant grasses are brown bent; sheep’s fescue; and wavy hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa. Additional interest is provided by the flora of the ditches and ponds where two species, scarce within Greater London, have been recorded, namely, alternate-flowered watermilfoil within a man-made pond, and lesser skullcap in damp places near several ponds. The ancient parkland and its associated trees supports a nationally significant assemblage of invertebrates. It is one of the prime sites in Britain for beetles associated with dead and decaying wood (lignicolous coleoptera) with over 200 species recorded. Two nationally restricted species occurring in Richmond Park are the click beetles Ampedus cardinalis and Procraerus tibialis, listed as Red Data Book Species. 

Wimbledon Common: Wimbledon Common supports the most extensive area of open, wet heath on acidic soil in Greater London. The site also contains a variety of other acidic heath and grassland communities reflecting the variations in geology, drainage and management. Associated with these habitats are a number of plants uncommon in the London area. The woodland and scrub support a locally important community of breeding birds, including green and great spotted woodpeckers, lesser whitethroat, nuthatch, and in most years, kestrel and lesser spotted woodpecker. 

However there is no reason why the ten bat species recorded locally cannot be a named feature on nearby nationally important habitat in the future.

A second questioner was unsatisfied by my  response regarding the recent deterioration of the natural and heritage features as well as a  lack of enforcement at the site (particularly lack of management, discard of road cones, multiplication of estate agent boards and general filth). 

Clearly, the owners of the site are responsible for the repairs to their property to ensure that the features are not damaged and to prevent the build up of litter. If the railings are in poor condition then the site owners need to address this as they are they  are after all .................the site owners!

The enforcement issue is a tricky one, when Thames Water owned the site they clearly had a management plan, which they adhered to and any departure from this was notified to the Borough (as the site is within  Conservation Area). It was management by necessity, expected standards and consensus. Our M.P. along with the former 'FoSW' group (including myself) met with Thames Water to discuss the management and expectations.

Some members of the FoSW met with the Kingston Society a few months ago, who said they would write to the owners to ask that the site be cleared of rubbish. If my front garden looked a tip then I am sure the council would be on my case. What would you suggest?

I did meet one person who said he was interested in waterworks and thought the development would save the waterworks but he didn't explain why. It is possible to make unedited comments below to explain your point of view but you will have to log in.

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