Bid to protect town's water meadows

By Lisa CleverdonA CAMPAIGN has been launched by residents living near a town's historic water meadows to protect endangered species of wildlife for future generations.

By Lisa Cleverdon

A CAMPAIGN has been launched by residents living near a town's historic water meadows to protect endangered species of wildlife for future generations.

Great crested newts, kingfishers and water shrews are among the many examples of threatened wildlife that habitat the water meadows in Bury St Edmunds.

The elusive water shrew is one of the country's least-known mammals and is often vulnerable to predators. A survey is being carried out in Suffolk to determine the extent of the water shrew population in the area.


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Bury St Edmunds resident Gordon Ruddock, 72, said: "The site is not only of great ecological importance, but is very close to the town centre and is a valuable area for people to visit and a great source of education for school children.

"I have seen water shrews on the meadows and the site is such a lovely place to walk, especially in the summer, so I would like to see them protected for the future."

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Veteran campaigner Doreen Tilley said she was fighting to see the land registered as a place of national importance.

Mrs Tilley, 83, of College Street, Bury St Edmunds, said: "I have asked English Nature if they would consider getting the meadows put on the SSI list, which means it would be a Site of Scientific Interest.

"We need a plan that will last forever so we know the meadows will always be looked after for future generations, which is why I am so keen to see them registered so that the wildlife will always be protected.

"There are so many wonderful creatures living on the meadows and they need to be protected. I have been told St Edmundsbury Borough Council will be carrying out a hydrology survey because although the meadows are flood plains and need to be kept as such, we do not want the water to impede on the habitats of the wildlife."

The meadows were the source of much controversy when the Greene King brewery unveiled a plan to build an access road through the middle of the site just off Cullum Road.

Protesters began a long and bitter fight against the proposal, but lost their battle in 2001 when work on the new road was given the go-ahead.

The brewery, which owns part of the water meadows, put together a 10-year management plan as an ongoing commitment to maintaining the area for wildlife.

Mrs Tilley's next step is to approach Suffolk Wildlife Trust to find out whether the site could be registered as a local nature reserve.

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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