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Petition to Protect Woodham Burn

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Petition to Protect Woodham Burn Between Byerley Park and Woodham Bridge from Housing and Commercial Development To: Great Aycliffe Town Council, Sedgefield Borough Council & Durham County Council. Woodham Burn is at the heart of Newton Aycliffe, its most treasured natural feature. It is a popular recreational and natural haven that runs along a shallow valley from Byerley Park through the centre of Newton Aycliffe to the A167 at Woodham Bridge. It has a pleasant mosaic of habitats including, wild-flower meadows, mixed woodland, scrub, grassland and stream-sides. A public footpath and much of the Great Aycliffe Way wander along the burn passing sculptures, seats and information panels inspired by the area\'s history, landscape and wildlife. Many other intersecting and well used paths provide access from all parts of the town. The marshy floodplains towards Woodham Bridge in particular provide a wealth of biodiversity and merit conservation. The area is also in constant recreational use by local families for cycling, walking, jogging and enjoying wildlife, proving an amenity that is of immeasurable benefit to the local community. The burn and floodplain are inhabited by, or provide potential habitat for, many protected species, including: water vole, badger, roosting and foraging bats, newts, frogs, toads, slow worms, otter, curlew, grasshopper warbler, grey partridge, kingfisher, kestrel, lapwing, linnet, skylark and many others. The area has potential for enhancement, including wild flower rich grassland, ponds, upgraded footpaths, children\'s play areas, art works and extension of the Great Aycliffe Way, which would further benefit the local community and draw visitors to the area. With sympathetic landscaping and management existing problems with flooding can be addressed and creative solutions sought that enhance rather than damage the special qualities of the Woodham Burn. So, we, the residents of the surrounding areas insist that the county, borough and town councils find a way to designate and develop Woodham Burn as a Local Nature Reserve, to provide recreational amenity for local residents and to protect it from housing and commercial development. If necessary this should include compulsory purchase of the area towards Woodham Bridge.


"Even to consider the diversion of Woodham Burn and the drainage of a local wetland flies in the face of good environmental practice in this day and age of alternating flash floods and dry periods. Insurance companies are now paying much more attention to such situations as they carry out their risk assessments when considering new development sites. Their aim is to maintain a porous landscape that will take the ecological strain of cloud bursts and droughts thereby mitigating the likelihood of insurance claims. Newton Aycliffe has an enviable record of a \'new town\' where urban green-space and people can live in meaningful harmony. It is my considered opinion that to divert the Burn and drain the flood plain with its abundance of wild life, from newts through kingfishers to bats would be tantamount to ecological vandalism. Surely it is much better to develop the area as a local nature reserve that will continue to maintain the balance of the local area." David Bellamy

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