Wednesday, 8 September 2010

September Newsletter

What’s been going on?

Well there has been a lot going on and those that have e-mail have been updated. Where are we now? The site has been assessed by the Kent Wildlife Trust and these are some of their findings.
"The Westbrook site boundary falls within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As such it is protected under both European and national law. An assessment by Natural England (in 2009) found that the SSSI area was in an ‘unfavourable but recovering’ condition due to the disturbance effects of dog walkers on roosting and feeding birds.
The site’s grassland is also important as a ‘stepping stone’ for wildlife in an ecological corridor of chalk cliff and chalk grassland sites around the coast of Thanet. These support nationally rare invertebrate and plant species.
At present the site consists of rank grassland and chalk cliffs. A number of interesting plant species were found in small numbers and the site seems to be well-used by a range of bird species, provides an important feeding and roosting point for coastal birds and waders and a stopping-off point for migratory species.
The grassland is predominantly coastal and neutral in nature, but due to a lack of management, has become rank in places with the development of some scrub. Being on a thin chalky soil, it has the potential to support many of the flowers associated with chalk grassland and retains some of these species in places. Appropriate management would create a more flower-rich grassland – providing nectar for a wide range of bumblebee and butterfly species and providing cover for ground nesting (and roosting) birds"

On 24 August, 4 of us met with Councillors Roger Latchford, Simon Moores and with Doug Brown, who is the TDC Major Development Officer.
We presented to them how we thought that this site could be used, if it was not handed over to a developer. The presentation was well received. The TDC believed that our aspirations for the site were similar to theirs.
The most attractive and viable option is to set up a project with the Kent Wildlife Trust to eco-manage the site and to plan its continued use to the benefit of the community. Consequently, we might be eligible for funding to help create biodiversity and, to this end, we would involve local volunteers and schools. A balance could be created between current users; for example, dog walkers and the wildlife. There is also a possibility of adding an additional bench (or two) bordering the promenade and, maybe, a picnic table (or two) bordering the car park. These would be vandal-proof and made from re-cycled materials. Part of the site would be managed to maximise wild flowers and, at the cliffs at the back, to set up some wood-piles and projects for schoolchildren to get hands-on conservation.
The TDC has taken this land off the Asset Disposal list to allow these ideas to be developed. It seems, therefore, to be appropriate to ask for a delay on the Village Green Application while negotiations and investigations into funding and partners take place. I believe that we could create something of real value to Westbrook and wildlife. Please send me your comments and/or offers to help to: