Lewes Forum thread

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Lewes Racecourse

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On Sun 17 Feb at 10:25am Numberjack wrote:
So having cleared scrub and trees from a vast swathe of ground adjacent to the motor roads, it looks like the landowner has moved in the heavy machinery to commence some major groundworks or possibly building on the site.
They have no planning permission!
This is land within the South Downs National Park. The SDNPA, seem to not be interested in stopping this work, read into that what you will!
If you care about our downland landscape, contact the SDNPA and voice your opinion...Jack.Trevelyan"AT"southdowns.gov.uk
Also copy Ruth OKeefe roklewes"AT"eastsussex.gov.uk and Lewes District council.....Daniel.Wynn"AT"lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk
Let's hope we can stop this vandalism of our landscape.

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On Sun 17 Feb at 4:25pm Hag wrote:
The forum won't post my respsonses, so much for free speech. The landowner Mr Fitch Heyes is an environmental vandal who has now decimated the remaining half of the woodland. The rangers said they could do nothing after the first half went, and we pay their wages, sadly we can't pay them to give a damn and stand up to despots who rape the countryside.
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On Sun 17 Feb at 5:09pm Local99 wrote:
Vast.
Discuss.
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On Sun 17 Feb at 7:38pm Penguin wrote:
The man is an environmental criminal, this is simply vandalism on a massive scale. Why can (or will) the authorities not do anything to stop him? What about the wildlife, I have seen adders, slow worms and lizards up there for starters.
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On Sun 17 Feb at 9:04pm Sensible wrote:
Who is it who is defaming a landowner? Local authorities and their uneducated officers are fly-by-nights compared to landowning families who measure their plans by centuries. I believe the owners of land know their job and must be assisted to get on and do it. They know their land better than anyone else possibly could. My advice to complainants is to concentrate better on their scrappy, plastic garden-centre window-boxes and don't meddle with matters they have no natural right to be concerned about.
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On Mon 18 Feb at 1:06pm Nevillman wrote:
Is that why these wonderfully responsible landowners were so happy to let everyone smell their sewage for so long before leaving someone else to sort it out?
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On Mon 18 Feb at 9:19pm Mark1234 wrote:
Thanks Numberjack - i have written to the person you provide the contact details for at the SDNPA. I dont understand how it was possible for them to do this and how there are no repercussions. Also its hard to believe the motivation was frost on the road - the area they cleared was much larger than warranted if that is the motive - as far as i can tell.
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On Tue 19 Feb at 12:17pm Mark1234 wrote:
I wrote to John Trevelyan at SDNPA and got the following (i have written back asking who is responsible for land management given it fails under that, apparently).

Re: SDNP/19/00068/GENER – Alleged clearance at two (2) separate sites at Lewes Racecourse

Thank you for your emails and the information re the vegetation clearances at Lewes Racecourse. Myself and the local SDNPA Ranger inspected last Wednesday (29 January 2019) and have been in contact with our colleagues at Lewes Council. This was a visit to both sites – the area walking up to the Racecourse from the Spital Road area, and at the top of the Racecourse adjacent to the Motor Road.

Although I understand the impact of the clearance, from a planning enforcement point of view (the SDNPA being the statutory planning authority for the area) the clearance appears to be a land management issue as opposed to a planning issue. The Hedgerow Regulations (or any other legislation that I would deal with) does not appear to have been breached in this instance.

Below is a detailed email from Daniel Wynn at Lewes Council further explaining from their point of view:

In response to a raft of complaints I visited the site on Friday (25th January) in my capacity as the Council’s Specialist Advisor (Arboriculture) and I have the following comments to make:

The site in question is within the South Downs National Park’s jurisdiction but Lewes District Council acts as it agent within the Lewes District Area. Our function is predominately related to Planning matters, but the Park’s own Rangers usually deal with wildlife issues. I have attached copies of aerial photographs taken circa 1999, 2006 and 2012 and the citation for the Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). These are important background documents which I will refer to in my report. My comments come in response to the works undertaken but I have had no communication with the land owner before the works took place.

It is important to note that much of the scrub, which is mostly Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elder and a scattering of trees such as Sycamore and Ash, simply didn't exist before 1999, or at the very least was very much sparser in density than it is today. The 1999 aerial photographs show both areas lightly peppered with small trees and shrubs with some areas where trees and shrubs are completely absent. Indeed, the area in question was originally designated as an SNCI site (Site of Nature Conservation Importance) that was specifically raised for its "...unimproved grassland with calcareous grassland components." The presence of invasive scrub, however, has killed off much of the valuable Downland turf and it will continue to spread unabated unless removed. Contrary to appearances, therefore, the removal of some of the invasive scrub could be considered to be a desirable course of action in this case.

In accordance with the information we have, there is no evidence of any hedgerows being destroyed or lost as a result of these works. The aerial photographs reveal nothing that could be described as ‘hedgerow’ and for these reasons it is considered that there is no material breach of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 has occurred. It is important to understand that the Hedgerow Regulations were introduced to protect hedgerows which meet the ‘importance’ criteria. The criteria relate to the value of hedgerows as an archaeological, historical, landscape or wildlife perspective and it is considered that the works do not impact on any of these specific factors in terms of how they relate to the regulations..

With regards the loss of habitat, our Ecologist, Kim Dawson (Lewes District Council) comments that scrub such as this is a valuable habitat in the landscape providing cover, food, shelter, and roosting sites for birds, insects, reptiles and small mammals Indeed reptiles such as Adder and the Common Lizard have been recorded in the area. Scrub is a transitory stage between open habitats and woodland, and as such plays and important role in landscape structural diversity. It can of course form links and wildlife corridors between other woodland habitats, which enhance the importance of isolated stands. Under normal circumstances the Council would actively seek to encourage the management of scrub and to maintain its biodiveristy interest. In some cases, for example on chalk grassland, it is necessary to prevent its expansion through regular cutting or removal, but it is acknowledged that this should be planned as part of a wider habitat management plan which may not be the case here.

Where scrub removal is necessary, we would emphasise the importance of checking in advance what might be present in the scrub, and also what role the scrub plays in connecting habitats on site. Whilst it is highly unlikely there are any nesting birds up there, the allegation of disturbance of nesting birds cannot be dealt with by the Park or by Lewes District Council. This is properly a matter for Sussex Police Wildlife Liaison Officer who may be interested in any eye witness accounts of any offences being committed. All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), whilst they are actively nesting or roosting. Section 1 of this Act, makes it an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird, and to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built. It is also an offence to take or destroy any wild bird eggs.

The SDNPA will be offering management assistance to the landowners for any future projects, and will look to assist how we can. However, my investigation is now closed. Please be aware that I have also forwarded this email (minus your personal details) to other parties that contacted the SDNPA re these clearances.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries or there is similar concern in the future.

Kind regards
Jack Trevelyan
Enforcement Officer
South Downs National Park Authority
01730 819 352
South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
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On Tue 19 Feb at 1:28pm Hag wrote:
I can't see how it wouldn't qualify as a hedgerow, and the small woodland has looked as it did, for at least 20 years in my memory..A the woodland was between two paths, or the path and the road, means that it could not have been removed in the interests of preserving or extending chalk grassland, as it is separated from it, by a right of way.
An obvious source of shelter and habitat for wildlife on an otherwise open landscape.Just because landowners have always managed their land in a particular way, regardless of the attempted intervention of transient authorities, doesn't mean they do what is right for the wildlife.
The numbers of all the wildlife species that would have made that woodland their home, are dropping, because of loss of habitat, caused by landowners, wanting to increase the profitability of their assets, eg selling a few logs. This site should have had an Environmental Impact Assessment before it was destroyed, but now it has gone, along with all the species who depended on it.
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On Tue 19 Feb at 8:57pm Local99 wrote:
What?
Self-important people on here thinking they know better than experts?
Surely not?
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On Wed 20 Feb at 4:00pm sally wrote:
Yes and i am fed up with you dog walkers who dont clear up there dogs s...t
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On Wed 20 Feb at 11:25pm Local99 wrote:
their
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On Thu 21 Feb at 9:33am Webbo wrote:
Mr FFitch-Heyes has contacted me.
He wants you to know he doesn?t own the land.

See the messy tree removal thread for more details.


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