Council bids to turn Battle into a haven for wildflowers

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SUS-170203-144416001

Battle is aiming to turn its grass verges and other public land into wildflower meadows.

Battle Town Council is heading up the project.

Mayor David Furness said: “The town of Battle is a beautiful place and it seemed right that it should be the location for the first town in the area to fully embrace such an exciting and forward-thinking scheme.

“The council has been working with our MP Huw Merriman, Fergus Garret, head gardener at Great Dixter and East Sussex Highways as well as local partners such as Beautiful Battle and residents.

“The now famous war memorial in the High Street will be transformed into a small meadow and it will reflect what the countryside of Battle looked like in 1066, even small areas such as roundabouts can be a haven for wildlife.”

Keith Datchler OBE, an expert on wild flower meadows, said: “Wildflower meadows have been vanishing from our countryside at an alarming rate - 97 per cent has been lost to intensive agriculture in the last 70 or so years.

“Only initiatives such as this can stem this terrible trend of loss.

“Enhancing grass verges and other small areas with wildflowers will not only help the environment but bring us face to face in our everyday lives with a habitat little known to most people, meadows natures tapestry.

“Species rich grassland would have been commonplace to our grandparents.

“If seeing these beautiful areas rich in wildflowers brought into the town and its surrounds enthuses people, raises awareness and perhaps inspires people to create their own little wildflower meadow, it will be a truly wonderful thing for Battle and its residents.

“Us humans are creatures just like any other species, yet we are rapidly becoming removed, disconnected from nature. We would do well to remember our origins protect the environment, not just for the undeniable visual beauty but for our health and well being - people need nature.”

Margaret Emeleus is helping the council identify suitable areas in Battle.

She said: “This is a project that has been in the making for several years and I am so pleased that I am able to help identify suitable areas for planting. Battle will look very special in years to come.”

Battle MP Huw Merriman, who chairs an all party parliamentary group on bees and is a keen beekeeper himself, said: “I am delighted that Battle Town Council has taken up the wildflower meadow ideas pitched by Fergus Garrett at my parish conference.

“Not only will this create a new habitat for wildlife, it will make the town look even more spectacular for residents and visitors alike.

“My cross-party bees and pollinators group is looking to deliver the same concept inside Parliament. Battle is showing us the way.”

An East Sussex Highways spokesman said: “As a highways authority, we have a legal duty to protect and enhance the county’s flora and fauna wherever possible.

“Allowing verges to develop naturally, where appropriate, is one way of promoting biodiversity and we look forward to working with the town council to see how this idea could work in practice.

“With any scheme of this nature, a judgement would have to be made as to whether suggested locations were appropriate for this purpose and to ensure that visibility and access to the public highway would be maintained at all times.”

Cllr Furness added: “If residents in Battle would like to suggest areas where they feel wild flower meadows would be suitable could they contact the town clerk at the Almonry, Battle High Street either in person or by email at carolharris@battletowncouncil.org.uk.”

He added: “Wild flower meadows look spectacular for six to eight weeks of the year, and when the wild flowers die the seeds become a great source of food for birds mammals and invertebrates.

“By late summer these areas are once again mown, they lay dormant through the winter until the cycle of meadow life starts again the following spring.

“Battle Town Council will be working with schools and other groups, and hope that this project will prove to be inspirational, teaching children about the importance of wildlife and our responsibility for leaving a sustainable environment for the future.

“It is hoped that other nearby parishes near Battle will join us in this adventure and by doing this the 1066 countryside, towns and villages will be something to treasure.”