Parish Council's response to consultation on Wildlife Corridors

Published: 08 September 2021

Your Parish Council has made a submission in favour of a proposed Strategic Wildlife Corridor between Nutbourne to Hambrook and marked in green on the accompanying map. The intention is that the corridor will give greater protection to wildlife.  The full wording of the submission is as follows:

The Ham Brook is absolutely vital for supporting wildlife in its transits from the SDNP to the AONB and for providing habitats. Chalk streams are environmentally significant and rare. The area of the proposed corridor is teaming with wild life; many rare and protected species to be found in the proposed area of the corridor including bat species Nyctalus, Barbastella barbastellus,  Myotis myotis and either the equally rare Pipistrellus kuhlii or Pipestrelle Nathusii (it being difficult to distinguish between the two). Several red listed birds have also been noted in the proposed area of the wildlife corridor including a song thrush, a bird of serious conservation concern. However, a full survey would be of value. The existence of so many rare species results from the provision of good foraging habitat, evidence firmly documented  by the Bat Survey Report Sussex conducted by AEWC and Gray’s Ecology (both commissioned by CDC)  and the Bio Diversity Record Centre. Given that most species of rare bats, if not all of the rarer species, are to be found in the area of the proposed Wildlife Corridor its importance is of even greater significance as, in the the UK, bat populations have declined considerably over the last century due to loss and fragmentation of habitat, diminished food supply and destruction of roosting sites. Today, bats remain under threat from a wide range of factors, the proposed corridor providing essential connectivity between roosts and foraging sites, as well as providing foraging and roosting habitats for bats. In particular, a continuous ribbon of scrub, hedgerow (with mature trees) and small pockets of connected woodland are present along the route of Ham Brook.

It is important therefore, that Chichester District Council continues to promote this, and other wildlife corridors, for the purpose of improving existing habitats features for bats and other wildlife, as well as the creation of new additional habitat features within the built environment, including additional tree planting, formation of tree-lined streets, extension of riparian corridors, new lakes and ponds, hedges and dedicated areas of scattered trees and woodland. It is imperative that such landscape features provide unbroken connectivity with the wider rural landscape and with urban green spaces, such as parks and gardens.

Concern however must exist as to the width of the wildlife corridor, in some places no more than 180m.  Given that it connects the AONB to the SDNP at the veery least, by definition, this is a sub-regional corridors and therefore it should really have a width greater than 300 meters. However, through also being a migratory pathway, the width should really be greater than 500 meters. Although in truth the minimum corridor width should be estimated on the home range data of target species of which more research needs to be undertaken, as the most detailed so far conducted relates only to bats. Clarification is also required as to the level of financing available to support the corridor as tunnels and/or bridges will be required to allow species to safely cross the obvious barriers: roads with heavy traffic and a rail line.

To provide a wider buffer on the west side, the corridor should be broader from where it meets Priors Lease Lane going north to Churcher’s Copse, making it in line with the route going north. The section from the A259, where it meets the AONB, to the railway line should be wider to protect the transit route on the west. There is already new development to the east. Through this regime of widening, it would also help protect a number of ancient hedgerows, a number of which lie outside the current proposed corridor and which, in a number of cases date to at least 1778 while others are Parliamentary enclosure hedgerows of the early 19th century.

See plan here