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Soberton Water Meadows Appeal

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust  purchase of St Clair’s Meadow completed

Read the HIWWT Press Release here

Congratulations to everyone involved in the process of enabling Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) to acquire the historic water meadows between Selworth Lane and West Street.

Match fund-raising of £60,000 from the community and many letters of support for the acquisition helped secure a landfill tax grant for the Trust to purchase the 39-acre meadows. The purchase was completed on September 29th.

It was good to see so many people at the public meeting on Tuesday 19th September to meet the officers of the Trust and ask questions about the future of the meadows.

HIWWT Estates Director John Durnell briefly described what he called “the exceptional wildlife value” of this stretch of the Meon which is the least well-known, but possibly the best in environmental terms, of Hampshire’s four chalk streams, which in turn are among the best chalk streams in the world.

As I explained at that meeting the Trust is now at the very early stages of developing their thoughts about the best way of managing St Clair’s Meadows. The Parish Council intends to nominate as soon as possible an individual or small team to liaise between the HIWWT and the community to ensure that all views about the future of the meadows are considered in the development of a draft plan.

Once the draft plan is complete it will be posted on the parish council website – www.soberton.org - and also circulated by email as widely as possible (see below).

There will be one month’s consultation where we will all be invited to comment on the draft proposals before the plan is confirmed.

The plan will include immediate actions such as fencing in preparation for the introduction of grazing cattle, consideration of public access and possibly signage to guide visitors about appropriate behaviour to safeguard wildlife on the meadows.

John Durnell said he hoped to introduce educational visits on the meadows, hosted by his Reserves Officers Chris Lycett and Emma Hunt. He would also like to encourage people from the area to get involved in monitoring the site and conducting wildlife surveys.

Future fishing rights – the current lease to the United Services Fishing Club expires with the sale – will form part of the consultation.

John Hyland, Parish Council Chairman.

Some history

Soberton Parish Council announced on 12th September 2017 that following the highly successful local match fundraising of £60,000 the landfill tax grant has been awarded to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) to enable them to purchase the St Clair’s Meadows from the Clarendon Estate for £350,000.  
 

On 27th July you reached the target for the water meadows matched funding appeal – with one whole day to spare!

John Durnell, the Director of Estates and Conservation Delivery at HIWWT described your response as “fabulous.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported the venture – whether by writing letters of support for HIWWT’s bid, by engaging in discussion about the future of the meadows, or by donating cash to the appeal.

We are particularly grateful to the Parish Council which has solidly backed the appeal from the outset and to Holy Trinity and St Peter’s for their generous donations from the fete proceeds. The parish magazine committee also gave generously from its advertising revenue and PiNS gave generous support.

Announcing the success of the appeal, Parish Council chairman John Hyland paid special tribute to the work of Nigel Johnson, a member of the Soberton and Newtown Conservation Group and a former Trustee of the HIWWT, who worked tirelessly to secure HIWWT’s engagement.

The site is 39 acres of traditional water meadows  - see sales particulars - which the Wildlife Trust proposes to manage in a way that is compatible with wildlife and environmental concerns as well as providing public access.

For further information contact the Parish Council here