Stop the destruction of our beautiful meadow in Highwoods before it's too late

Stop the destruction of our beautiful meadow in Highwoods before it's too late

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Susie bulman started this petition

Against all expert advice and Government biodiversity strategies, Colchester Borough Council is planning to destroy a valuable grassland in Highwoods Country Park, one of the richest wildflower meadows in the area in terms of wildlife and biodiversity, which has been carefully managed for 20 years. 

I thought the Country Park was protected: apparently it's not and councillors can vote to do whatever they like with it. Councillors have ignored guidance from central Government and the Woodland Trust, and advice from local ecologists, wildlife experts and even the dedicated Park Rangers themselves.

Please can you sign this to help make it known that we won't just stand by while they make the wrong, ill-informed decision. The meadow isn't just beautiful, it's important ecologically AND it absorbs tonnes of carbon every year (tonnes more than young trees!). How can the council be permitted to ignore the experts and a Government strategy?

They are going to plant trees to meet a tree-planting target. Sounds OK? Not too bad? Trees are good? YES trees are very important BUT as all the advice the council has been given shows, they must be planted IN THE RIGHT PLACE to be beneficial. There is no issue at all if the planting has been planned by the rangers and people who understand the park and its ecology, but apparently it has not, hence the Gazette article and other wildlife experts and ecologists in uproar on social media.

Council arguments to have the trees planted (which will REDUCE the carbon absorption level of the area while the trees get to the 20+ years they need to be in order to start absorbing any significant level of carbon AND harm the delicate balance of wildlife that currently exists because of it),

  • the park is called 'HighWOODS' therefore it must have more woods...
  • it used to be ancient woodland so we are just returning it to that
  • "trees are already ordered", "the decision has been made", "this is how democracy works" Statements made and currently visible on social media in the Facebook group 'Eco Colchester' by a certain Highwoods councillor.
  • "as I said consultants are just that their views like others are considered but the council makes the decision that’s democracy."
  • "The trees have been ordered, the land being prepared and 5he Queen has been invited to plant the last of the 3,000 trees in her platinum jubilee wood" [sic]

One of my favourite responses from an eco expert in response to the councillor comments mentioned above: "you trotted that line out two years ago and it has now been shown to be false. Even if the area that is now prime quality grassland had been wooded many years ago (which we now know it wasn't), that doesn't justify destroying what it now is because you want to have a photo opportunity with Her Majesty."

These statements (there are loads more!) and the fact that biodiversity has been completely misunderstood/ignored by council members doesn't bode well at all for anyone who cares about our environment. 

Trees are not bad at all, of course they're not. BUT destroying a very valuable meadow is a completely mad decision just to meet politically motivated targets? Why not plant trees where they are actually needed? Areas that have been paved over and developed? THAT would help increase biodiversity - you can't argue that destroying existing biodiversity will help increase biodiversity - WHAT?!

So much of Colchester is being built upon - plant more trees and plants to help make those areas more diverse, give EVERYONE a better quality of environment, not just those people who are lucky enough to live near the park to be able to enjoy it regularly. 

Please sign: the council can't just make these decisions and ignore ALL advice. Where will it end?

The council's 2020 pledge: (can't find one for 2022)

Biodiversity and Landscape

One of the aims of Colchester Borough Council’s Parks and Green Space Strategy is: “to support the protection and enhancement of biodiversity in accordance with the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC)”. Most of High Woods Country Park is designated a Local Wildlife Site and as such supports a wide variety of habitats and species. These include diverse woodlands, hedgerows, grasslands, marsh and wetlands which in themselves support over 100 species of bird, 300 species of invertebrates, including 100 species of butterfly and moth, and 300 species of plant and fungus.

Picture is of one of the meadows running down to the trainline in Highwoods Country Park taken in 2021.

PS local elections are THIS Thursday... just saying... 

2,035 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!