LETTER: Sad and misguided

WE EMPHATICALLY do not agree with West Sussex County Council that building on Horsham’s Muggeridge Field will have no impact on local residents (County Times, December 15.

Quite apart from all the issues related to planning, service provision and access, the outline proposal alters the Horsham landscape irretrievably, which will affect local residents for generations to come.

The county ecologist categorised the field as ‘of low ecological value’ at the recent public inquiry.

This description appears to be largely based on a one-day survey in summer 2010 commissioned by WSCC.

An extensive but by no means comprehensive survey by ourselves over several days in summer 2011 identified three times more plants and trees.

Based on this alone, Muggeridge Field is by no criteria whatsoever ‘of low ecological value’.

On the contrary, by this plant-count, Muggeridge Field is, in our opinion, ‘semi-improved’ or even ‘unimproved’ pasture – in other words a traditional meadow and part of dwindling resource nationally.

In terms of its diversity, the plant count also makes it the third best field of all the adjoining fields in Chesworth Farm, the wonderful 90-acre public countryside site owned by Horsham District Council.

Muggeridge Field is also a nesting site for skylarks, now a rare species which thrives on this type of pasture, and a valuable resource for a further five red-listed bird species.

Finally the suggestion by WSCC that if its appeal is allowed and development goes ahead, that woodland screening and a new ‘wildflower’ area can in any way compensate for a natural landscape that has taken hundreds of years to evolve would be laughable if it was not so sad and misguided.

LAURA and TIM THOMAS

Gorings Mead, Horsham