Essex Wildlife Trust splashes out on new fence to protect Saffron Walden nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 09:40 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 21:55 31 May 2010

A CHAIN-LINK fence, which is almost two-and-a-half metres high, has been built to protect a rare chalk cliff in Saffron Walden from rubbish dumpers and vandals. However neighbours have complained that the fence, which surrounds a three-acre conservation a

A CHAIN-LINK fence, which is almost two-and-a-half metres high, has been built to protect a rare chalk cliff in Saffron Walden from rubbish dumpers and vandals.

However neighbours have complained that the fence, which surrounds a three-acre conservation area at the rear of St Mary's View and Limefields, is an "overreaction".

Bill Offer from St Mary's View said: "I understand that it's looking after one of the few chalk walls we have in Essex, but this is too much. A nature reserve and a chain-link fence don't go together.

"It looks like a tennis court fence. There was no consultation with any of the neighbours before it went up."

The 2.4m-high fence, which required planning permission from Uttlesford District Council, was erected by the Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT) at a cost of £14,500. It replaces a smaller wooden fence.

Reserve manager for the EWT, Leanne Sergeant, said: "Unfortunately there has been a problem for a number of years with people dumping garden, and household, waste on the site.

"Youngsters have also broken onto the reserve and thrown stones at the chalk cliffs. It's only a small minority who cause problems, but we need to protect it."

The chalk cliff is a geological and historical feature which was exposed when gravel was being mined in the area. Other chalk cliffs in Saffron Walden have been lost to development.

The shrub and grassland on the reserve is a habitat for wildlife and when grass grows on chalk it can be a home for rare flowers. However the dumping of waste has damaged the area for plants and animals.

"Last Wednesday afternoon I had a meeting with some of the neighbours to the site and explained the situation," said Ms Sergeant. "The fence is chain link so people can still see it and enjoy the site, they just can't go onto it."

The EWT is a charitable organisation and was asked to take on the site about 10 years ago when the Limefields development was built. A volunteer group visits reserve throughout the year to clear rubbish.


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