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Stand up for Nine Wells

by Amanda Taylor on 10 January, 2016

grey partridgeThe Nine Wells nature reserve is under threat because there is a risk that land just 30 metres away from it may be taken out of the green belt.

Liberal Democrat councillors have launched a petition calling for land close to the Nine Wells to be kept as Green Belt in order to protect this hugely significant Local Nature Reserve. South Cambridgeshire District Council is currently consulting on changes to the Local Plan which would allow a field that is just 30 metres from Nine Wells to be developed.

The area around Nine Wells supports a large and significant population of rare grey partridges, as well as several other red list species such as skylark, linnet, yellowhammer, corn bunting and yellow wagtail. The greatest concentration of grey partridges is on the field that would be released from Green Belt protection. Furthermore, bringing development right up to the large hedgerow on the southern boundary of the field will greatly reduce its function as a habitat for biodiversity.

The proposal also represents a threat to the chalk springs of Nine Wells. Nine Wells has an important place in the history of Cambridge as the springs feed Hobson’s Brook, the former water supply for the City. These springs formerly contained rare freshwater invertebrates and attempts are being made to reintroduce them. Until it can be demonstrated that development close to Nine Wells will not impact the flow of the springs, no changes to the Green Belt should be allowed.

The Green Belt study on which the proposed release is based in fact requires that ‘An appropriate buffer of Green Belt land should be retained to protect the ecological interest of Nine Wells Local Nature Reserve.’ Under this modification, the Green Belt buffer between the field and Nine Wells would be reduced to just 30m. This is clearly inadequate and is not what is envisaged by the Green Belt study. The landscaping requirements in the proposed policy are no substitute for the protections of Green Belt designation.

No one has demonstrated that there is any demand for the development of this land, let alone made a case that benefits of development would outweigh the damage that it would cause.

As well as signing the petition here, the Liberal Democrats are calling on residents to submit their objections directly on the Council’s website here.

More information can be found in the report by local resident John Meed, who regularly surveys the bird life of the Nine Wells area.

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