Worthing Borough Council to return farmland to natural habitat

Released: Monday, 25 January 2021

A 100-acre piece of farmland is to be returned to its natural habitat by Worthing Borough Council as part of its pledge to promote biodiversity and help tackle climate change.

The Council is seeking to take back possession of Shepherds Mead, at the foot of Cissbury Ring and bordering Findon Valley, and will rewild the space, working with local residents and wildlife groups.

The land is in the South Downs National Park and the park authority will also work with the borough council to encourage wild flower and plant growth which will attract wildlife. It is hoped the land will also be accessible to walkers and nature lovers.

Leader of Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Daniel Humphreys, said:

“This seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. We have committed ourselves to helping to tackle climate change and promoting biodiversity and this land gives us a perfect opportunity to put these ideas into practice.

“It is just one part of the sustainable jigsaw puzzle alongside actions such as committing to become a carbon neutral authority by 2030 and establishing a Citizens' Assembly to advise us on climate change measures.

“I want Shepherds Mead to be a wonderful wild, natural spot for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.”

The Council has owned the freehold of the land since the 1970s but it has been farmed by a tenant since then. Recently the chance to take the land back arose and, after reaching a commercial agreement with the farmer, the Council decided it would seek to return the space to natural habitat. In recent years the land has been lying fallow.

The land will be used to encourage wildlife such as pollinators like bees as well as serving as a natural source for capturing climate-changing carbon gases.

Worthing Borough Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 pledging to bring forward a range of measures that help tackle the climate change crisis. A large increase in the installation of solar panels to cut down the Council's carbon emissions is under way as is a programme of replacing some of its fleet with electric powered vehicles.

The Citizens' Assembly, made up of 40 local residents, is due to report back to the Council with suggestions for climate change tackling measures in January.

Greater Brighton members own a considerable amount of building space - and so they are committed to reducing their own energy use by 50 per cent, by 2030.

Photos: View across the land at Shepherds Mead looking towards Cissbury Ring (top) and the houses in Findon Valley (bottom)

PR21-015 - View across the land at Shepherds Mead looking towards Cissbury Ring

PR21-015 - View across the land at Shepherds Mead looking towards the houses in Findon Valley

(PR21-015)

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Page last updated: 10 June 2021