The Meadows – Wildlife Haven: Pond Clearance
The recent tidying of the area around the pond in the Meadows orchestrated by the Volunteer Fire Brigade (GVFB) has caused a heated difference of opinion.
Some have suggested that the pond was originally a paddling pool for children and should have been restored as such, but our research indicates this is not the case although some children may have used it for paddling over the years. It is clearly a wild life pond and many residents are concerned at the efforts to tidy the area.
In early September this year GVFB identified the clearing of the pond in the Meadows “as a worthwhile project to improve the village”. Even at this early stage the pond was recognised as a home for Newts during certain times of the year, but not winter, and it was proposed that clearance work should take place while they were away.
Late October saw an announcement on the Parish Council Facebook Page that the GVFB were potentially looking to restore the “children’s paddling pool” by the dog walking meadow. One GVFB officer even went so far as to say that “allowing nature to completely swamp, a purpose built play area” was not a good idea. This announcement provoked a response from some residents about the potential destruction of a wild life space where “wild plants, bugs, water boatmen, dragonfly nymph, damson fly larva and in particular Great Crested Newts had regularly been seen“. Questions were asked about why the pond area needed to be cleared; why Mother Nature couldn’t be left to do her job and the suitability of the dog walk area for local children to play in?
A GVFB member responded that the Brigade had “in writing from the relevant bodies all things newt related” and that “weed clearance had to be completed before the end of February”. Other contributors were supportive of the creation of a paddling pool and an area that families might picnic and enjoy, indicating that the area had needed clearing for some time.
Again on the Facebook page, Saturday, 19th November was announced as the first day for cleaning around the pond area and that “having taken advice from the relative authorities, tidying up would take place in a sensitive manner”. One resident commented that the assurances “to gently clear the pond and little stream of excess over-grown bushes, trees and shrubs, basically a tidy up of that area, so that the pond life and Eco system, with the amazing Great Crested Newts and other pond life can continue to thrive and grow”, were a welcome relief.
Sadly for some residents the work undertaken over the weekend of 19th/20th November did not appear to match up to expectation and the Wild Life Trust were contacted. All work was stopped as concerns existed that the instructions and advice provided hadn’t been followed.
The GVFB has told its members that “Concern was raised that protected newts may be present on the site, and so advice was sought via the Wildlife Trust and other experts prior to undertaking the work”. Furthermore that “there is no documented evidence of newts being present, or ever having been present, and this is a fact and can be confirmed via the county recorder”.
Mark Rowley, GVFB Community Officer and Parish Council Chair has told Geddington.net that “The GVFB presented their plans to the council at the November meeting and permission was given to do the work as per the Wildlife Trust guidelines with which they’d been provided (GVFB members of the Parish Council abstained from the vote)“.
In view of concerns raised following the clearance work by some residents and a consequent visit by the Wild Life Trust, he (Mark Rowley) says “I met with GVFB representatives to understand what had been done and their plans moving forward“, furthermore that “no work will be done in the area other than clearing the cuttings and branches until an on-site meeting has been had with the Wildlife Trust on what should be done next”.
The GVFB has told Geddington.net that the “Brigade has the best interests of the village and the GVFB at heart”. The GVFB Commanding Officer, Darry Faulds has promised further comment following the Wild Life Trust visit.
The site visit took place on Thursday, 15th December, with members of the Parish Council, GVFB, Geddington.net and concerned local residents attending. The initial view was that the work had not been completed as sensitively as it should and that trees had been cut down without permission, but that steps could be taken to redress the situation. Parish Councillor, Nick Batchelor, took the lead, noting suggestions from the Wild Life Trust to improve the situation and to address the formal recommendations when received from the Trust.
One local resident has commented, and Geddington.net agrees “The efforts of the GVFB in working on many projects for the benefit of the village should be applauded. The clearing out of the pond is an example, however, where the failure to find out what people want has lead to problems“. This is perhaps the main lesson to be learned, good communication and consultation avoids the problems highlighted by what has happened.
Geddington.net will provide a further update when information from the Wild Life Trust and the Parish Council is available.