Those residents who attended the March Parish Council Meeting will know that the Council has voted to open up Glebe Meadow for public access and dog walking.
Many residents, of course, may not yet be aware of this decision.
Glebe Meadow was originally registered as a Site of Biological Importance (SBI) in Cheshire and is an important Local Wildlife Site (LWS); the largest meadow in our village.
Previous botanical survey data submitted to CWaC and Cheshire Wildlife Trust, confirm a species-rich habitat, including the following:
*23 species of grass
*20 species of wildflowers
*Small Skipper Butterflies (uncommon in Cheshire) and a number of other declining species such as Orange-tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown
*A host of invertebrates
Without a 'Parish Biodiversity Plan' in place and without undertaking immediate professional and comprehensive ecological surveys, it will be impossible to compare, contrast and monitor the long-term effects of public access and dog walking on this fragile habitat.
Local groups such as TWiG, Transition Tattenhall and resident ecologists in the village, are concerned that increased footfall, dog walking, dog faeces, dog urine and litter may have a negative outcome for biodiversity on this relatively small, but significant, Local Wildlife Site.
Some residents, of course, will welcome and fully support public access to the site. Some residents may also consider that an unmanicured meadow represents an eyesore. But that's exactly what TWiG and others were hoping to address in the coming months; providing all the necessary information to help people understand just how special the site is and how we should be celebrating its biodiversity.
Reconciling the lack of open space in Tattenhall with public access is a real dilemma.
However, our Parish is criss-crossed with almost 10 pubic footpaths in and near to the village (FP1, FP2, FP6, FP7, FP8 etc) and which are all available to access on the CWaC interactive map. The Millennium Mile, Mill Brook Wildlife Corridor and Heritage Trail Walks are also well publicised in the village. In fact, the Wildlife Corridor and Heritage Trail Walks also appear on the Village Surgeries Group Website, promoting well-being and health supporting activity. Most recently, the Spinney has also been developed and opened for public access. Part of Tattenhall, of course, is also on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge and Tattenhall Online has been publishing some of the fantastic walks that are on the Ridge. In addition, parts of the canal can readily be accessed near to the Tattenhall Marina and you can even pop in for a tasty treat at the Boathouse Café. Tattenhall, therefore, is not without lots of fantastic walks and public access.
With 'National Meadows Day' in early July, TWiG was hoping to celebrate the biodiversity of Glebe Meadow and to run a series of informative and educative sessions on the richness of the habitat but in a measured way and using local expertise. As in the past, we were hoping to have managed groups of individuals and children undertaking some basic survey work and exploring all the bugs and beasties that can be found in the area. We were hoping to incorporate 'No Mow May', 'Let it Bloom June', and 'Knee High July' sessions, with activity sheets for beginners, quadrat frames to use in species identification and guides to bugology. We had even planned walks at dusk to enjoy the bat population or at dawn to enjoy the dawn chorus. We also recognise the need to install new outward facing information boards at both ends of the meadow, celebrating this rare landscape. We had hoped to submit a bid for funding in the current Parish Council Grants round, and CWaC Crowd funding. What we were hoping to achieve was balance – balancing and celebrating this fragile ecosystem with measured access, rather than public access and dog walking.
The question, therefore, is whether the residents of Tattenhall want to preserve and protect this Local Wildlife Site in the heart of the village and celebrate its place in our Parish Biodiversity with measured access, or whether there is a real call for public access and dog walking which, without strict monitoring, may result in a loss to this fragile ecosystem.
(images of Glebe Meadow supplied by TWiG)