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Moore Nature Reserve under threat - Cheshire Wildlife Trust voices its concerns

Friday 13th October 2017

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is supporting the community of Warrington as they try to prevent the loss of Moore Nature Reserve to future planning development. An area of the reserve has been submitted as a potential site for future planning applications as part of Warrington Council’s plans for Port Warrington.

The Trust’s Evidence and Planning Manager, Rachel Giles, recently submitted a response to a consultation about the proposals. “We believe developing this site would be highly damaging to local biodiversity, the local community and would be environmentally unsustainable,” said Rachel. “We have submitted a response which outlines the harm a development on the nature reserve would cause to species such as dragonflies, bees, butterflies, breeding and wintering birds. Reflecting the Council’s own planning policies set out in the Warrington Local Plan Borough wide strategy ‘Securing a high quality environment’, we believe that the nature reserve should be protected from development.”

Moore Nature Reserve has areas of woodland, meadows, five large lakes and wetlands and is home to a diverse range of plants, animals, birds and mammals. Situated between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, the site has been managed as a nature reserve since 1991, following a period as a sand quarry. The site is managed by wardens employed by FCC Environment who operate the nearby landfill site. With its networks of pathways, bird hides and benches, the reserve has become a popular community location.

“Moore Nature Reserve is not only a haven for species but a great asset to the community. There is a bank of evidence of how visiting green spaces and getting outside helps people deal with stress and improve mental health. This site has become a go-to place for people in the community appreciating this benefit,” said Charlotte Harris, Chief Executive Officer at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “Owners of the land, Peel Holdings have it licenced as a landfill site, meaning that the nature reserve has to stay in existence until 2021, but then its future becomes vulnerable. We are urging Warrington Council to take heed our advice and the voice of the community on this issue.”

Peel Holdings have submitted part of the 200 acre reserve as part of the plans for Port Warrington. Moore Nature Reserve is a designated Local Wildlife Site and supports a number of wildlife habitats which are significant in the region including species-rich grassland, reedbeds and woodland.

The nature reserve is an important education resource for every age group from toddlers through to university students. More than 650 children have taken part in Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s education work at Moore Nature Reserve this year.

Wildlife TV Presenter, Nick Baker, recently visited one of the Trust’s Forest Schools at Moore Nature Reserve, he was impressed by the how popular the reserve was. “We’ve seen so many people here today and it’s clear they are concerned that parts of this nature reserve have been put up as possible sites for development,” said Nick Baker. “The fact that they love it, has made them concerned about it. Whatever their relationship is with this place. It doesn’t matter, it’s very personal. But they are now concerned, and that concern is what changes the future. It’s what makes people go ‘no we’re not going to let that happen, we don’t want that to happen. We’re going to object to this’. If you fall in love with a place, that’s the beginning of looking after it and protecting it.”

The potential allocation of land in south Warrington as part of the Garden City Suburb is another area of concern. This area includes three designated Local Wildlife Sites and a number of important wildlife habitats including one of the highest densities of farm ponds in the Cheshire region.

“We believe that the ecological networks and wildlife corridors need to be mapped before any decisions are made in order to see what impact future developments would have on Warrington’s biodiversity in the long term,” said Rachel Giles.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is also urging people to write to their Member of Parliament expressing their concerns, even though the public consultation period has closed.