September at Seething Wells

Me and Monbiot photo S. Sivanesan

So whilst 10,000 of us were at the People's Walk for Wildife, singing in the rain with Billy Bragg, chatting to George Monbiot and hearing more about the charter for wildlife proposed by Chris Packham......This was happening at Seething Wells.....

The council have confirmed that there is no planning application, and that the felling of trees is not allowed due to the conservation area status; but they have not been able to stop the digger removing the vegetation, topsoil and in many cases the subsoil, destroying some of the industrial archaeological features - while revealing new ones - previously hidden; some of the structures are subject to local and national listing.

When Thames Water was the owner of the site, operatives regularly scraped off the vegetation to remove tree growth, which is not good for the structure.  This assisted the growth of the diverse chalk grassland plants -see Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) citation below- many of which have been  lost due to the growth of buddleja, ash and holm oak saplings, bracken,  etc. However they never cut the Spanish broom to this extent or filled the beds with the arisings and soil.

Where the natural interest of sites has been destroyed -as is sometimes the case- planners are able to take account of the interest prior to the destruction; of course they are, or this would be the regular modus. So the citation below would operate as  the baseline.

Meanwhile, the only ones enjoying the aftermath are the predators

Site of Borough Grade I Importance for Nature Conservation
  Site Reference:          KiBI08
  Site Name:                   Seething Wells Filter Beds
  Summary:                    The remains of the old Surbiton Water Works, next to the Thames, frequented by
                                         wintering wildfowl and other birds seeking refuge from the comparatively exposed
                                         river. Plant species usually associated with the North Downs grow on the chalk
                                         grassland on the concrete basin walls.
  Grid ref:                        TQ 173 675
  Area (ha):                     5.36
  Kingston upon Thames
  Chalk grassland, Marsh/swamp, Pond/lake, Ruderal
  Access:                        Can be viewed from adjacent paths or roads only
  Ownership:                 Kennett Homes (development arm of Thames Water)
  Site Description:
  The remains of the redundant Surbiton Water Works consist of seven rain-fed filter beds in a steep-sided
  basin. Adjacent to the River Thames, these filter beds are important to wintering wildfowl and other birds
  seeking refuge from the comparatively exposed river. There is a locally significant gull roost here, and other
  common water birds breed. Sand martin has also bred here, a London Biodiversity Action Plan priority
  species. The largest filter bed has an extensive emergent bed of the uncommon lesser reedmace (Typha
  angustifolia), while other wetland plants include common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris). Wetland
  invertebrates include the banded demoiselle damselfly (Calopteryx splendens).
  Species-rich grassland has developed over the concrete substrate lining the basin walls, consisting of
  plants seen more often on the North Downs. These include upright brome (Bromopsis erectus), wild carrot
  (Daucus carota), hoary plantain (Plantago media) and the London rarities small scabious (Scabiosa
  columbaria), dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris), salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor), pyramidal orchid
  (Anacamptis pyramidalis), fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum) and common broomrape (Orobanche minor).
  The site is very important for its resident Daubenton's bats, which are protected and a London Biodiversity
  Action Plan priority species.
  Site first notified:       01/01/1992          Boundary last changed:      01/01/1992
  Citation last edited:   05/05/2006          Mayor Agreed:
  Defunct:                       N
  Last Updated:             09/03/2007


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