A Vision for Battlemead
WildCookham, working with Wild Maidenhead and other local wildlife and environmental groups, believes that Battlemead can provide an exceptional amenity for local people as well as offering a rich mosaic of habitats for our wildlife. We have been keen from the start to see human/public access built into plans for the land: indeed we were the first to suggest a specific route connecting Widbrook Common and the River Thames towpath, thus completing the missing link in the Millennium Walk from Hurley to Bray. We also see great potential in education, especially for the young, about wildlife and the environment. It's also a great opportunity to involve local people in volunteering - maintaining the environment, studying the life there, leading group visits. We can do this with the right long-term vision and commitment for Battlemead.
The Council set up a Friends of Battlemead group to discuss how best to manage the site, and, in particular, how best to achieve a balance between public access and protection and enhancement of the ecology. There is now broad agreement on many issues though debate continues over the public paths. We continue to voice our concern that any additional access will inevitably threaten the natural habitats and slow down and limit the scope for regeneration. This, we believe, is essential if Battlemead is to provide broad and long-term benefit to our local community.
We believe that the Council's adoption of a strategy to tackle the Environment and Climate Emergency makes the retention and enhancement of Battlemead's natural capital a 'no brainer'. It was private land until now with no rights of way: taking steps to encourage natural regeneration, coupled with some public access to allow people to enjoy Battlemead, is the right way forward.
Work has now started (Spring 2021) on the first steps to enhance the habitats with planting in the West Field, creating a scrub area for nesting birds and shelter for many animals. Nest boxes have been put up across the site and other projects are in hand. This is due to the work of both Borough staff and local volunteers.