May’s update from Langley Vale!
Things are always really exciting at Langley Vale Wood in Surrey and there is lots going on as usual! Thanks to Simon Bateman-Brown, Site Manager, we can now enjoy more recent news from his corner of this special project…
We had a positive meeting with planning officers from the three local authorities on the 2nd April, 2019. Although the minutes are still to be confirmed as accurate by the officers, they have provisionally confirmed new dates for committees to hear the planning application, which are:
Mole Valley (car park) – 5th June, 2019
Epsom and Ewell (visitor centre, memorial area and natural play area) – 27th June, 2019
Reigate and Banstead (pedestrian and multi-user paths) – 3rd July, 2019
We are also hoping that they may be able to make a decision on some of the smaller items of infrastructure at the committee meetings (such as grove posts), but the larger items, such as the Jutland sculptures, will still require a second application. These should be ready for submission shortly after we have a decision on this current application. We’re still in discussions with the Jockey Club regarding their objection that centred on the need for a horse crossing close to where the car park entrance will be. We have now met on site with some of their representatives to discuss access points elsewhere on site and agreed work to take forward, which has helped to build our relationship.
Arable plant monitoring
Together with the volunteer arable group surveyors, we have worked out a new grid system for the plant monitoring that will enable more accurate recordings of the plant locations on site. Whilst the grids will only appear on paper, we are marking each junction of the grids on the fence posts on site to allow for easy referencing when the volunteers are on site. Our ecologist, Giles Groome, has started his survey work, which includes two days of training with our volunteer group.
Our volunteers are busy monitoring for birds across the site and reaping great rewards. Skylark numbers are at their highest they’ve ever been, but we’re particularly excited that we currently have at least one pair of nesting lapwings on site. This is the first time lapwings have nested since 2014 and was a repeated argument made against our woodland creation plans, that we’d be stopping them from nesting. It’s great to see them back and the extra interest this has created has brought more expertise to the site – we’re currently looking to carry out more specialised monitoring of the birds and nest with qualified ornithologists.
Animals will be back on site very soon, pending the signatures on the new grazing license agreements. Still no llamas or alpacas sadly but we are getting goats onto site for the first time this year! The animals will help to manage the open space areas by removing the nutrients and allowing a wider variety of species to come through. They will only be on site for a short time before returning mid-July, when they will be able to graze through until at least the autumn. Why not pop down and see them if you are in the area?
Further to the ash dieback survey of 2018, a felling license application has now been submitted for the site, which also includes some woodland edge management works. It’s likely these tree works will begin toward the end of the year and, depending on the ash dieback survey results for this year, may mean a considerable amount of tree work on-going for up to five years.