Diggers move into woods

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News from Star reader Lee Swords is that the bulldozers are about to move in to destroy the butterfly meadow at Bowden Housteads Wood.

Bad news indeed.

Diggers are already clearing the grassland, which is Green Belt, Green Corridor and a locally-scheduled protected site – a part of the Ancient Woodland.

Despite being in Sheffield City Council ownership and thus, in principle at least, protected by council conservation policies, promises and commitments, the meadow is doomed and its rich fauna of butterflies and bumblebees too.

Local people have protested about losing their green space in a part of the city which is relatively badly off for environmental resources.

However, it seems we are back to the bad old days of an environmentally-disadvantaged east Sheffield. West and east, rich and poor.

Communities here deserve the advantages of a healthy environment - mental and physical health, social benefits and quality of life, plus a desire to live in a particular location.

If you live in Ecclesall, you get a wonderful Woodland Discovery Centre in your wood; if you live in Handsworth or Darnall, you get a fire station.

Somehow, this is not right.

Even the environmental reports on the site missed basic information, omitting issues of impacts on adjacent woodland archaeology with drains and pipelines going through the Woodland Local Nature Reserve, but nobody in authority seems to care.

Now as I write, the butterfly meadow is a heap of soil and wasteland.

Gone are meadow browns, gatekeepers, skippers, blues, tortoiseshells and orange tips.

The answer tritely rolled out is that the fire station will have a ‘green roof’.

Have you ever tried walking your dog or meeting the neighbours on a green roof?

Will local folk be able to watch butterflies and bumblebees foraging there?

Not much of a recreational open space.

Sadly, this site and its fate symbolises much that is wrong with how we now care, or fail to care, for our local environment and local people.

n Sightings: Expect to see peregrines almost anywhere now, like three or more near Tata Steel at Aldwarke, two probably juveniles and together providing a view for around two hours.

Also in the east, a lesser whitethroat was singing near Canklow Woods and at Parkgate there was a common whitethroat.

Kingfisher, grey heron and sand martins can now be expected anywhere along the Don and its tributaries.

Indeed, along almost every river or canal, expect plenty of coots, moorhens and little grebes now with one and maybe two broods of youngsters.

Post-breeding flocks are already gathering with, for example, 30 or more starlings at Roundwood Golf Course at Rawmarsh.

With the breeding season in full swing, the woods are still echoing with birdsong and blackbirds, song thrushes, chiffchaffs, great tits and blackcaps are noticeable.

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