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Help save York’s wildlife!

Thursday 12th June 2014

Southern hawker (Credit Rob Stoneman)Southern hawker (Credit Rob Stoneman)

Proposals for two major housing schemes next to the wonderful Askham Bog nature reserve and at the Tilmire near Heslington will be disastrous for wildlife says Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Whilst we understand the issues surrounding available housing, this should not come at the expense of a city treasure like Askham Bog, akin to the York Minster in the opinion of any naturalist.

York City Council will soon be considering a development proposal for housing adjacent to the beloved Askham Bog Nature Reserve in York. What has taken thousands of years to develop in to one of Yorkshire’s natural gems could be lost in an instant.

Dr Rob Stoneman who is Chief Executive of Yorkshire’s biggest wildlife charity, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “Askham Bog was originally saved from development in 1946 by Francis Terry and Arnold Rowntree who purchased it. The reserve was then gifted to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust by the famous sweet manufacturers to be looked after in perpetuity. Whilst we understand the issues surrounding available housing this should not come at the expense of a city treasure like Askham Bog, akin to the York Minster in the opinion of any naturalist."

The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the only place in Yorkshire to have a mix of lowland southern and upland northern species, along with nationally rare wildlife such as gingerbread sedge and the fen square-spot moth. It is a beautiful, tranquil place, full of orchids, dragonflies and the sound of birdsong in summer, and twittering flocks of siskins and goldfinches in winter. Roe deer and water voles find a haven here and kingfishers can be seen fishing by the ponds.

The wildlife and plants at Askham Bog are entirely dependant on the integrity of the local water table. The management of the nature reserve over the last 70 years has successfully focussed on sustaining the area’s hydrology and it remains exceptionally sensitive to any disturbance that could occur as a result of adjacent developments. There has been no evidence to suggest the development will not irreversibly damage the hydrology of Askham Bog risking everything that the nature reserve protects.

The views of local residents are extremely important to York City Council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are calling on everyone who loves this ancient and beautiful gem on the edge of York to send a letter to the Planning Department raising their concerns.

The Local Plan also proposes a development close to another wildlife treasure, the Tilmire, near Heslington. This fen meadow supports breeding species such as lapwing and skylark and is a riot of colour from blooming wild flowers in spring and summer.

Dr Stoneman added “Building thousands of houses next to the Tilmire could cause considerable damage to this important wildlife site. Ground-nesting birds will simply not survive if thousands of people plus their cats and dogs move in next door. This beautiful site could be destroyed.”

“We are calling upon our 1,000 plus members in the York area and other residents of York to help us protect these two important sites for York’s wildlife. Please add your voice to ours and object to these proposals.”