Common work angers walkers

REGENERATION work at Allerthorpe Common has caused anger among walkers who use the area.

Thursday, 15th March 2012, 12:05 pm

Natural England sanctioned for several acres of scrubland to be cleared using a tractor and rotavator to restore heathland in the area.

Work began last week and contractors Perry Forestry were expected to have completed the project before the Post went to press.

Walkers who use the area spoke of their concern for wildlife in the area, including adders, lizards and birds, and the amount of trees which have been destroyed.

Jeannette McClure, of Burnby Lane, Pocklington, visits the area frequently to walk her dogs.

She said: “I could have cried when I saw it. I was that upset.

“I come here more or less every day. I had a break and have been down to my mother’s and I was so shocked when I came back up. I thought ‘not another place that is tearing down trees.’

“It is really sad. The wildlife there, where is all that going?”

Another walker, Chris Dawson, of The Balk, Pocklington, said: “I know that there was a problem with encroaching birch trees on the open heath areas but to devastate such an important habitat/ecosystem to solve the problem beggars belief.

“For the last few years I have been monitoring the common lizard and adder populations which, year on year, have been steadily growing.

“Thanks to this thoughtless, inconsiderate and uneducated choice of clearance it has wiped out not just these populations of reptile but also an important co-existing ecosystem for all the other species and, due to this mismanagement, will obviously take many, many years before anything thrives there again.”

John Lacey, from Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Selby, also visits Allerthorpe Common on a regular basis.

He said: “I’ve been going for the last four or five years. I couldn’t believe it.”

“It is devastation on a grand scale.”

Natural England said the work was part of their High Level Stewardship Scheme which involves working with land owners and managers to “safeguard and improve the natural environment.”

The environmental body stated that it revised its plans for the benefit of wildlife after becoming aware of the public’s concerns.

Simon Christian, lead conservation and land management adviser for Natural England, said: “The aim is to restore areas of Allerthorpe Common to open heathland with heather and plants.

“I can perfectly understand their [public’s] concerns. The work can seem quite destructive. We have spoken to a number of people who have been down there.

“A colleague has met with one of those members of the public. We have taken some of those concerns on board and revised the plans to avoid key areas that might be best left untouched.

“In the long term, areas will be improved for adders. The works in the long term will hopefully improve adders.

“We’re doing our best to avoid affecting wildlife.”

Allerthorpe Common is owned by the Forestry Commission and part of it is leased by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.