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OPINION: I fear for future of Hobbucks Nature Reserve if Killisick Lane land sale isn’t managed properly by council

Blogger and environmentalist Howard Usher shares his fears around the development of land around the Hobbucks Nature Reserve in Arnold

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I use the Hobbucks Nature Reserve and surrounding fields two to three times per week for walks, exercise, to botanise, to observe wildlife and for photography. The benefit to my mental and physical health is enormous, in turn saving the NHS money.

I’ve been trying to digest the proposals made as part of the consultation over the sale of council-owned land near Killisick Lane and have significant concerns – but I do understand the difficult position the council is in.

PICTURED: Killisick Lane in Arnold (PHOTO: Howard Usher)

My main concern is around the ‘fields’ to the left or west of Killisick Lane, directly adjoining the Hobbucks Nature Reserve. The land to the right or east has always been likely to be built on.

The concerns about the land to the west are that it is already part of the nature reserve in all but name. Nature does not understand ownership and boundaries, and flora and fauna have already moved in – contrary to what Gedling Borough Council have said, the area is not overgrown, but is naturally regenerating into a wildlife rich area alongside the existing nature reserve.

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Destruction of this land, alongside the corner of the Hobbucks being sold and the established hedgerows alongside Killisick Lane amounts to environmental vandalism. We cannot afford to lose any more trees, hedgerows, plants or wildlife in this climate emergency.

Like other people, I fear we will not really have any say and decisions have already been made.

If a development does go ahead, I fear for the existing nature reserve, land grabs and the impact developers will have on the Hobbucks itself.

If the development does go ahead, there must be a no-build zone created on the land sold that is adjacent to the existing Hobbucks boundary otherwise developers will creep into the Hobbucks, removing overhanging vegetation from the reserve and destroying the margins of the Hobbucks. Developers are not renowned for their sensitivity to wildlife or nearby areas.

The Hobbucks in its entirety must be protected at all costs and in fact extended or what do we have left? Where can we walk to get exercise or connect with nature?

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The so-called countryside is bereft of wildlife already – field after field of monoculture or sheep, hedgerows ripped out to improve productivity.

The nature reserve is one of the main things attracting people to the area to live – in the spring the birdsong is amazing, providing an escape from the built-up world, improving people’s lives. Any development impacting the reserve will reduce the attractiveness of the area and take away the benefit of living here, leading to further mental and physical problems for residents.

The Hobbucks, Killisick Lane and surrounding land contains rich established woodland, hedgerows, scrub and grassland, high in biodiversity at a time where nature is being attacked from all quarters. Much of this would take 30-plus years to establish elsewhere, so it is irreplaceable.

The best compromise, in my opinion, would be development to the right/east of Killisick Lane in the uncultivated fields, whilst re-investing in expansion of the Hobbucks to the left/west – a win-win for wildlife, local people and house building.

Anything else will lead to the council losing support of people like myself.

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You can read more of Howard’s nature blogs at his website that can be found HERE

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