Happy to be in Shipley

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I FEEL that someone needs to provide a simple unbiased view of Knepp, its wildlife and ragwort issues.

Firstly I must emphasise that I am far from being an expert, and base my comments purely on my observations.

We moved to Shipley in February, having lived on a farm the other side of Billingshurst for 23 years.

Our previous house, to my untrained eye and ears, had a plentiful supply of wildflowers, birds and insects, but since moving to Shipley, bears no comparison to the volume of birdsong, variety of birds, wildlife, flowers and insects present here.

I am basing these observations purely on my senses. For instance, the birdsong from dawn to dusk is greater in variety and volume; whilst I can only recognise a handful of butterflies, there are many here that I have simply never seen before.

Our garden, just feet from the Estate boundaries has been full of wild bees, insects, snakes and birds.

Similarly, I am no expert on ragwort, but have come to the conclusion that its presence generates hysterical reactions, and divides the community.

I know that Knepp employs gangs of workers to hand pick ragwort in the more sensitive areas, and machine cuts all the other perimeters.

Ragwort has of course flourished this year, partly due (and I am not sure why!) to the severe Winter conditions; however, as a keen cyclist, covering many parts of our beautiful county, its abundance is noticeable everywhere, not just at Knepp. I am sure that Knepp Estate would not have taken so much time and trouble to introduce deer herds, cattle, wild ponies and Tamworth pigs to their land if the presences of ragwort posed the slightest threat to such beautiful (and expensive!)animals.

As a family, we are delighted to live in Shipley, and experience at close hand these ground breaking environmental and ecological projects.

ASHLEY PRESTON

Hooklands Lane

Shipley