Loss of wild flowers angers residents

Agngry residents have continued their battle to protect the scenic land at Bignor Hill after discovering that ‘beautiful’ flowers had been removed.

Friday, 9th August 2013, 6:00 am
JPCT 220713 Residents angry at trees felled on Bury Hill. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 220713 Residents angry at trees felled on Bury Hill. Photo by Derek Martin

Bignor Hill remains a hot topic for Bury residents after wild flowers had been ‘cut back’ to create space for animal grazing.

This follows an ongoing dispute where residents claimed that more than 40 yew trees were felled with ‘no prior consultation’.

A representative from South Downs National Park Authority said the trees were removed to ‘allow rare plants and animals such as glow worms, marbled white butterflies, viper’s bugloss and yellow rattle to thrive in the area’.

But since this statement was made last week villagers have reported that rare flowers have now been removed.

Resident Alyson Miller said she recently visited the site.

“All the grass and beautiful wild flowers have gone and I don’t understand why,” she said. “At last month’s Sutton Parish Council meeting we were told about the importance of saving glow worms and flowers.”

However, now, she said, people had come in and cut it all down.

Another resident, Keith Miller said: “The National Trust, South Downs National Park Authority and the tenant farmer stated that the enclosure of the meadow and grazing by cattle were essential in order to maintain and improve the flora and fauna.”

A representative at the National Trust told the County Times that the ‘mowing’ recently carried out was ‘done by the tenant and not by the National Trust’.

“Last winter preparations were made to return Sussex cattle to graze Bignor Hill – part of the National Trust’s Slindon Estate,” said the National Trust representative.

“Wild flower-rich areas like Bignor are some of the most endangered habitats in the country, and we are at great risk of losing it to scrub and woodland. Grazing created this habitat, and grazing is the only way to try to retain what is left.

“The Trust is not party to the details of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme that the tenant farmer has entered into with Natural England. We can confirm, however, that the mowing recently carried out on Bignor Hill was done by the tenant and not by the National Trust, and we will be contacting the farmer to find out why the mowing has been done this early in the year.”

The County Times tried to contact the tenant farmer for comment, but no response was received before going to press.