English Heritage has been awarded millions from the Heritage Lottery Fund for Marble Hill Revived. A project centred on renovating Marble Hill House, the construction of a large cafe, a new adventure playground, the updating of certain park facilities and newly landscaped gardens.
At first glance the plans sounds wonderful but scratch beneath the surface a little and certain elements seem at odds with our current semi-rural green space.
Not least plans to fell over 50 per cent of the woodland quadrants where certain species of The Park’s wildlife currently thrive. Of the 609 trees that make up the copses 326 will be felled and a further 97 coppiced, a method whereby trees are repeatedly cut down near ground level. Only 186 trees from within the quadrants will be left untouched.
The idea behind this is so that English Heritage would then have an area for its landscaped gardens and a home for the 200 person wedding marquee. It argues that the woodlands are bereft of wildlife and unimportant.
Our own expert from the Badger Trust found during his field visit obvious signs of badger activity within the woodlands and said the prolific badger setts had been there for perhaps 30 years yet when alerted to our findings English Heritage said it was unaware of the badgers until September this year and as a result is currently doing its own badger survey. It’s concerning that a protected species had gone unnoticed for so long especially after sustained scrub clearance over the last three years and archeological digs in the immediate locality.
Whilst the bat survey acknowledges that bats are active just one minute after sunset in The Park which indicates they live within The Park the report fails to establish roosts. As well as soprano and common pipistrelle bats, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, Nyctalus species (noctule or Leisler’s), probable Leisler’s and also a long-eared bat has been detected.
We know this area is of vital importance to bats thanks to The Thames Landscape Strategy and trees that make up the bats’ foraging lines are essential to their survival. And so the idea that the woodlands within The Park will be destroyed is of real concern.