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 access built into plans for the land: indeed we were the first 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 educating people, especially 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: but only if we make protecting and enhancing the ecology the priority.
From the start of our involvement we have urged the Council and the Friends of Battlemead to recognise that identifying the right ecological plan must come first and that public access needs to then fit into this. Some people wish to treat the land as an open space with wide public access. They claim that they want to see the wildlife protected but, by determining the public access as a pre-condition of the ecological plan, they completely undermine this claim.
Over the past year we have commented on the reports and proposals prepared by the Council, including agreeing to the need for paths across the land and many of the elements of the plans. However we are firm in our view that, first, Battlemead is worth protecting and, second, this will only be possible if the starting point is the ecology. We believe that the Council's recent 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 so nobody will lose out.