English bluebells in the woods of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak

ADD UPDATE, 1 May 2017: Last Saturday, a group of us went for a guided run or a walk from the Fox and Hounds pub to see the bluebells in Upper Barn Copse, Crowdhill Copse and Stoke Park Wood. We were careful to keep to public rights of way.

There is no suggestion that the woods will be felled if Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) pursues options B and C of its Local Plan – but the ADD campaign maintains that there would be a devastating impact on them.

Building housing and roads too close to woods leads to wildlife corridors being degraded. There is also concern about invasive non-native species of plants spreading into sites of ancient natural woodland, damaging the ecology. This often happens unintentionally when gardens are close to woods. And the bluebells highlight this risk. Spanish bluebells are an invasive, non-native plant that can out-compete and hybridise with the English bluebell. Spanish bluebells are a comparatively common weed in local gardens, and the RHS recommends avoiding planting in gardens close to woods.

If options B and C go ahead, our bluebell glades will be at risk.

The Forestry Commission, which owns Stoke Park Wood, has informed EBC about the risk of developing too close to the woods and has stated that there has been little or no buffer with previous developments (click here for its letter to EBC, dated 12 December 2016). It has proposed a buffer of 10-15 hectares north of Stoke Park Wood to offset the impact. ADD has already reported that the Woodland Trust is concerned about developing the gap between its two Sites of Ancient Natural Woodland (Crowdhill Copse and Upper Barn Copse). The Woodland Trust believes the gap is too narrow for the proposed new road to have no impact on its woods.

Please do go and see the bluebells. Don’t pick them, do keep to the paths. Do remove Spanish bluebells from your gardens, and add to green waste collection at kerbside or at household waste recycling centres*. Let’s enjoy the countryside north of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak and protect it for future generations too.

* Green waste schemes operated by local authorities compost garden waste at high temperatures set so that weed seeds are rendered unviable.