Wicken Vision wins backing from East Cambridgeshire District Council

CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand Wicken Fen – one of the few remaining fragments of preserved fenland wilderness – have received the support of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

The Wicken Fen Vision aims to expand the nature reserve over the next 100 years - creating a new reserve covering around 53 square kilometres between Cambridge and Wicken, the biggest project of its kind in lowland England.

Before giving its support, the district council had encouraged the National Trust - who own Wicken Fen - to engage with local residents, the farming community and other agencies to ensure they were consulted and included in the Vision’s development.

Councillor Peter Moakes, Chairman of Development and Transport sub committee said: “There has been a fair amount of local debate in recent years about the motives behind the National Trust’s plans and at the district council we were keen to ensure the organisation listened to the thoughts and sometimes fears of local communities.

“I am pleased to say the response from the Trust has been great - they have taken on board the challenge and engaged with the public like never before. Over recent months we have seen the benefit of this work with a number of projects being put together to enhance the area but also to involve all those who care so deeply for the site.

“Given this response, we are excited to support the Wicken Fen Vision and look forward to working together in the future.

“To visit Wicken Fen is to take in all which is great about the fen landscape. No matter the weather – it is a place where you can see the intricacies of wildlife in a setting which takes you back through the centuries to see how East Cambridgeshire once looked. The Vision for this area’s development will ensure it can expand over the next 100 years in harmony with the community and with nature itself.”

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Chris Soans, Wicken Fen Property Operations Manager at the National Trust, said: “We are delighted with East Cambridgeshire District Council’s support for the Wicken Fen Vision. We look forward to working closely with the council and local communities to develop the Vision -creating vital habitats for wildlife, improved access to the countryside for residents and visitors and opportunities for rural economic development.”

Campaigner and farmer Geoffrey Woollard from Upware is opposed to the Wicken Fen Vision, concerned about the loss of best quality arable land and food production.

He said: “I would hate to see more and more land go to rack and ruin under the National Trust regime. Could I please ask that East Cambridgeshire District Council continues to support the best of British farming and food production on the best farmland in the Fens?”