Wildflower meadow on tennis courts bulldozed by Norwich council – The Guardian

A wildflower meadow containing 130 completely different flowering crops, dragonflies and unusual bats that sprung up on Norwich’s final public grass tennis courtrooms has been bulldozed.Regardless of protests from native people and Inexpe…….

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A wildflower meadow containing 130 completely different flowering crops, dragonflies and unusual bats that sprung up on Norwich’s final public grass tennis courtrooms has been bulldozed.

Regardless of protests from native people and Inexperienced councillors, all-climate exhausting courtrooms with floodmilds and fencing are being put in in Heigham Park, wright here species collectively with whiskered and brown prolonged-eared bats, pygmy shrews, hedgehogs and 18 species of dragonfly have been recorded.

The ten grass tennis courtrooms had rewilded themselves since they have been closed in 2017, and lots of of native residents signed a petition looking for to protect the pure haven. Instead, Norwich metropolis council is persevering with with a £266,000 plan To assemble three huge all-climate courtrooms, with the floral sward ripped up this week.

Signal positioned by native residents at Heigham Park. Photograph: Lucy Galvin

When The state of affairs was surveyed in 2018, ecologists for the council concluded the one-acre space was of “negligible wildlife worth”. However since then, the courtrooms had been quickly colonised by wildflowers and species collectively with lesser hawkbit, yellow oat grass and the yellownecked mouse.

A two-hour unbiased survey by two expert ecologists And native pureists final month found a profusion of species collectively with the unusual Norfolk hawker dragonfly, The good green bush-cricket, And 6 species of bat, two of which, the whiskered and brown prolonged-eared bat, are acknowledged to be mild-delicate.

Sarah Gelpke, the ecologist who led the survey, said: “This isn’t a tennis courtroom, That is typically a biodiversity hotspot now, an ‘emergence meadow’ that if managed as a meadow would’ve Discover your self to be of extreme worth.”

Sarah Gelpke Ending up a survey of Heigham Park tennis courtrooms. Photograph: Lucy Galvin

Denise Carlo, An space Inexperienced councillor, said: “Tright here are So many open spaces being misplaced in cities. If we’re critical about creating local climate-resilient communities we’re going to Want to Scale again The quantity of exhausting cowl, not enhance it. All by way of the place Inside the nation, grass is being turned over to all-climate sports activities pitches – grass Might be very useful However it’s a diminishing useful resource in cities.”

Anne Holgate, 81, who lives on The road subsequent to the park, said: “It’s heartbreaking. It’s a heritage park, a listed park. The council are spending Greater than £400,000 [on all-climate tennis courtrooms throughout Norwich] when tright here are meals banks all over The metropolis and youthful Individuals are struggling. It’s so depraved. They’ve acquired no moral compass.”

Kelly Hobday, An space resident and mcompletely different of three, said: “When The youthfulsters could entry the courtrooms they liked having fun with tright here. It was all wildflowers And fantastic to witness – The Sort of factor you don’t have these days.”

Residents say the council Did not search the advice of them on the all-climate courtrooms plan, and argue tright here are seven all-climate courtrooms at ancompletely different park 10 minutes away That are seldom Utilized in winter. The Gardens Notion has opposed the plans as a Outcome of They do not respect the historic character of the Grade II-listed park.

Based mostly on campaigners, the council Did not undertake An right bat survey, with council-employed ecologists enterprise a daytime walkaspherical To look for bat roosts.

The two unbiased ecologists used a bat detector one night On the tennis courtrooms To find six species of bat. “I’ve by no means seen so many pipistrelle bats in my life earlier than,” said Gelpke.

“The unhappy story of Heigham Park is being repeated all over the nation. Tright here’s a lesson right here for completely different councils And completely different people desperately making an try To maintain wildlife in metropolis spaces – Take A look at your metropolis spaces as a haven, And by no means A spot To place a tennis courtroom That you merely don’t even need.”

A Norwich metropolis council spokesperson said: “This enterprise will enhance amenities for our residents in a historic And a lot-liked park.

“The significance of delivering these all-climate courtrooms can’t be underestimated When it Includes the associated yr-spherical well being advantages, As properly as to reducing delinquent behaviour and vandalism by way of the enhanced use of the park.

“Formal search the advice ofation Occurred in 2017 as An factor of The distinctive planning software course of. Independent heritage and ecological influence assessments have additionally been carried out, aprolongedside equality influence assessments, To inform our proposals.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/sep/15/wildflower-meadow-on-tennis-courts-bulldozed-by-norwich-council

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