Plan for wildlife space to bring countryside to city

PUBLISHED: 14:02 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 04 May 2010

ELY landowners are backing an ambitious plan to create a mile-long Wildspace in the city to protect wildlife and give residents the chance to enjoy the countryside. The project is being launched by the Local Campaign for the Protection of Rural Ely (LCPRE

ELY landowners are backing an ambitious plan to create a mile-long Wildspace in the city to protect wildlife and give residents the chance to enjoy the countryside.

The project is being launched by the Local Campaign for the Protection of Rural Ely (LCPRE) with the support of local farmers who could get Government funding for getting involved.

Leading organisations including the RSPB, Natural England and the Wildlife Trust have also given their backing to the idea which will protect endangered and threatened birds and animals.

Professor Andrew Balmford, LCPRE chairman said: "For our Wildspace vision to become a reality we need to create an unbroken pathway between the city and the open countryside.

"We're aiming for joined-up management that protects all the remaining patches of habitat around the eastern edge of Ely, for both wildlife and the local community. This is vital because the animals and plants that make this place so special and the people that use it for recreation depend on the area as a whole."

The Wildspace will stretch from the settling ponds in Queen Adelaide through Ely Common and Roswell Pits to the riverside and out to the A142. Some of the land could overlap and be included in the district council's country park project.

The Wildspace could be managed by a new trust which could include landowners and representatives of organisations.

The Potter Group, based on the site of the old sugar beet factory at Queen Adelaide, has also given its support to the project.

"We are confident that within a few years we will have, here in Ely one of the most thriving and diverse natural habitats in the area, with an increasing population of previously endangered and threatened species," said a spokesman.

Some of the land is already open to the public and other areas could be used for walking, playing, fishing and sailing while other areas would be more sensitive habitats for endangered species.

Landowners taking part in the project could be eligible for grants through the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.

Prof. Balmforth added: "There are real opportunities to build a common vision, owned by the whole community - the key is to do so now

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