Another New Town doomed to fail?

Mayfield promotion and Crawley new town houses

Mayfield promotion and Crawley new town houses

Author Tony Whitbread
Chief Executive

Following the growing controversy over the proposed new town to the east of Henfield, Jane Simmons from “Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl” (LAMBS) has sent me the following article showing how some of the ideas here are not as new as we may think.

As the promotion of Mayfield Market Towns rumbles on, it is easy to forget that Sussex already has a ‘New Town’; just 12 miles up the road.

This New Town is arguably not as ‘new’ as it was a generation ago; but it was at its concept, exactly the sort of visionary place described in Mayfields’ rhetoric.

This ‘New Town’ is, of course, Crawley; built as a post war initiative more than half a Century ago around a quaint Sussex market town in a near perfect location.

In June 1949, Anthony Minoprio proudly presented his Crawley New Town Master Plan to the Crawley Development Corporation as an aspirational blueprint which was, he said, “the framework of a beautiful and efficient town”.

In common with Mayfields Director, Peter Freeman, Mr Minoprio painted an idyllic picture of socially balanced neighbourhoods; built in sympathy with the surrounding countryside, around friendly village greens, a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre.

Mr Minoprio suggested, “The provision of small socially mixed residential areas, each with its own individuality and its own centre, in order to promote neighbourliness and the social development of the town. Practically all homes are within one-third of a mile (536metres) of their neighbourhood shops and within one and a quarter miles of the town centre.

“The character of the individual neighbourhood centres will vary and the design will spring from the natural features of the area,” he continued. “Local place names have been retained for the neighbourhoods in all cases and the affix ‘Green’, which is common in the Crawley area, has suggested the creation of a typical English Green at the centre of each neighbourhood.”

So what went wrong?

It is well documented that Mayfields’ master plan for Sussex is a scaled down version of a Garden City; very similar to those being promoted by this government, and in particular by Lord Matthew Taylor, the man behind the UK’s planning reforms (the NPPF). It is also well documented that Lord Taylor is one of Mayfield Market Towns’ Directors, and has been widely criticised for having a perceived conflict of interest.

Earlier this year his fellow director, Peter Freeman entered the Wolfson Prize for a new garden city. What is most unsettling about Mr Freeman’s submission, titled ‘A Shared Vision’ is that it bears an uncanny resemblance to Minoprio’s “visionary” Master Plan for Crawley New Town.

“We all love villages,” Mr Freeman begins, enthusiastically. “Our Garden City comprises a series of walkable neighbourhoods within a radius of 500 metres (exactly the same size as Minoprio’s). Enough people would live in each neighbourhood to populate a two form entry primary school and to support a viable cluster of shops, restaurants, hairdressers… We envisage that Village Green would be on a main route through the neighbourhood to boost customer support for local traders and bus services.”

And in common with Mr Minoprio, Mr Freeman is also keen to embrace the countryside in his design; which he says would include, “at least one linear park running through the town (incorporating landscape features like a stream or ancient woodland).”

Both plans extol the virtues of public transport (despite the fact that Mayfields would have no railway line) and both envisage the town becoming so successful that local people will be happy to live, work and play within its parameters.

“Crawley is to be a self-contained and economically balanced town,” stated Mr Minoprio. “Not a dormitory town to London”.
Once again, Mr Freeman agrees with his predecessor;

“The New Market Town is not designed to be a commuter town to serve London, but rather a town which concentrates on keeping travel local”. (It goes without saying that without a railway line, residents would have little choice).

But perhaps the most worrying thing about this comparison is that Crawley was already failing in its promises just months after the first brick was laid. Despite pledging, like Mayfields, to provide adequate affordable housing for young families, this vision was never realised, even for its very first residents. Crawley’s location in an affluent part of Sussex made this promise impossible. In May 1950 Hansard reported that rents on homes in Crawley New Town were already “beyond the reach of the average wage earner” (475).

It is too late to go back and correct the mistakes made in Crawley, but we can at least do our best to prevent a repeat. The NPPF promises to allow local people more say in housing decisions because they know the needs of their area best of all. However, in reality these decisions all go before a Government Inspector and are ultimately still made at a national level.

Two years ago (Speaking at the Institute of Civil Engineering in March 2012) the Prime Minister, David Cameron cited planners like Minoprio and his contemporary, Patrick Abercrombie as an inspiration, saying;

“It seems to me that our Post War predecessors had the right idea, embodied in a visionary plan prepared by Patrick Abercrombie in 1944. His plan underpinned the South East’s economic success by proposing well-planned and well-located new towns…”

Maybe Mr Cameron was unaware at the time that Mr Abercrombie was also a founding member of the CPRE; an organisation which is bitterly opposed to lack of protection offered to the countryside by the NPPF and is fighting hard against Mayfield’s proposals.

One thing that we can be sure of is that Crawley has fallen rather short of Abercrombie’s vision for a “beautiful and efficient” new town… and Mayfields (should it ever be built) looks to be heading for the same fate.

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Game-changing response required to tackle State of Nature crisis

purple emperor / David Plummer

purple emperor / David Plummer

Author Tony Whitbread
Chief Executive

Finding game-changing solutions to the crisis facing nature was the theme of the landmark Conference for Nature, held on 3rd September.  The event featured high-profile delegates including Sir David Attenborough, The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Germaine Greer and key people from business, politics, the utility sector and conservation.

In May last year, the UK’s leading wildlife groups released the State of Nature report, which revealed 60 per cent of our native species are in decline and one in ten are heading for UK extinction.  This national picture is probably reflected in Sussex where we have noted long-term declines for example in woodland butterflies, bird species and flower-rich hay meadows.

More than a year on, the State of Nature report partners, with support from Sir David Attenborough, are striving to encourage new ways of tackling the crisis facing our wildlife.

Commenting ahead of the event, Sir David Attenborough said:  “From the food we eat to the popular bedtime stories we read to our children, nature touches everyone’s lives more deeply than we can possibly imagine. The escalating erosion of wildlife from our planet is a direct threat to many facets of our own quality of life. Because of the complex relationship society has with nature, it is obvious that our response to saving it must extend from every possible quarter too. From you and I in our own domains, from business magnates to politicians, and from farmers to faith leaders, everyone has an opportunity to save nature. With an increasing global footprint, mankind is intensifying the crisis for wildlife, but as individuals we can all be a part of the solution for saving it too.”

More than 250 people attended this seminal conference including leading figures in industry and Government as well as all the UK’s major wildlife and countryside organizations; demonstrating the level of ambition for tackling the huge challenges facing nature.

Mike Clarke, is the RSPB’s Chief Executive. He said: “Last year’s State of Nature Conference set out the context for the devastating declines in some of our best-loved species, such as the turtle dove, common toad, and Atlantic salmon. However, saving these and other threatened species requires inventive solutions and creative partnerships with many sectors, underpinned by a meaningful commitment from Government. This conference is the platform for all to come together and achieve just that.”

Helen Ghosh, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “The evidence that nature is in trouble is overwhelming. Our challenge is to find radical and practical solutions to restore the health of our natural environment, which we know is loved by people across the UK. At the heart of this approach must be collaboration and partnership – working together to think big, be bold and to deliver real change on the ground.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:  “As a country, we are experiencing increasing levels of obesity and diabetes; and one in four of us will suffer with our mental health at some point in our lives.  Active contact with nature can help prevent and cure these health problems so we need to help our natural environment to recover and get back in touch with it.  That’s a big change and Society will only prosper when genuine political leadership is shown on this issue.”

The Conference for Nature was organized by the State of Nature Partnership, a coalition of 26 NGOs, including RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife and was attended by figures from a wide range of other industry sectors including housing development, water, retail, agriculture, mineral extraction, finance, transport and infrastructure.

 

For more information and to read a digital version of the report visit The Wildlife Trusts’ webpage here

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Do something Amazing for Wildlife

barn owl / Darin Smith

barn owl / Darin Smith

Mark Barkaway
Head of Fundraising and Communications

This week sees the start of ‘Remember A Charity Week’, a national initiative to inspire people in the UK to think about leaving a charitable gift in their will.

As one of 140 charities taking part in ‘Remember A Charity Week’ across the country, the Sussex Wildlife Trust is urging people who are thinking of making a will to take a moment to consider including a gift to wildlife.

In recent years, surveys on legacy giving have shown that although 74% of the UK population support charities during their lifetime, only 7% currently leave a gift to a charity in their will*.

Writing a will is a really important opportunity to provide for the people and causes you love. If we were all to leave some money in our wills for charity as well as our family, we can make a huge difference. In fact, just a small change in behaviour across the country (an increase in 1% of people leaving a gift in their will) could generate an additional £250 million for good causes in the UK every year.

Gifts that are left in wills are an important source of income for us here at the Sussex Wildlife Trust as it helps us to take a long term approach to our planning and strategic investment. These important gifts help us to buy and protect important wildlife sites, manage our existing nature reserves and better connect them with the wider landscape, inspire young people to value the wonders of nature and to speak up for wildlife to minimise the effects of planning development on our natural heritage.

In recent years, for example, donations that we have received in people’s wills have enabled us to purchase an area of land in the middle of our nature reserve at the Pevensey Levels near Eastbourne. As a result lapwing, teal, snipe and many other birds are now safe from a wildfowl shooting club who were interested in acquiring the land.

This year our legacy gifts have enabled us to continue with our important Marine Conservation work including undertaking research and surveys to build up our knowledge of the sea and continue lobbying for Marine Conservation Zones that will help protect the local marine environment including important nesting sites for long and short snouted sea horses.
‘Remember A Charity’ week is a timely reminder that everyone should make a will, and ensure our families, friends and favourite causes receive what we wish them to when we are gone.

No matter how much or how little you feel able to pledge, leaving a gift to Sussex Wildlife Trust in your will not only helps to save precious wildlife habitats and some of the most threatened species in the county, but will also help to create new generations of nature lovers.

Without receiving gifts left in wills much of the nature conservation work we have achieved over the years in Sussex would not have been possible. So this week, please do remember a charity and consider thinking about the legacy your gift could make to the wildlife and natural environment of Sussex.

For more information about how to leave a gift to Sussex Wildlife Trust in your will visit our Legacy page.

Watch The Living Legends film

*UK Giving 2010: An overview of charitable giving in the UK, Charities Aid Foundation (Dec 2010)

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Out in the Woods

Nature Tots at Friston Forest

Nature Tots at Friston Forest

Author Ronnie Reed
People and Wildlife Officer

‘Once upon a time there was a little boy called Joe (that’s not his real name but you knew that anyway). Joe is three years old and he is a very lucky little lad. He has two very special parents. (All parents are special but you knew that too). His father is Norwegian and every summer they spend time in Norway, in a small log cabin in the middle of a wood, on the south coast of Norway about three hours drive from Oslo. The cabin has no running water and there is a compost toilet but it is in the middle of a forest and close to a beautiful beach. This summer Joe spent his days line fishing for feisty crabs, collecting mushrooms to cook, and picking bright, glossy blackberries and tart lingonberries to eat. He feasted on fish that he had helped to catch, climbed rocks, played by the sea, got dirty and spent his time out of doors.

They returned to their flat in Brighton at the beginning of this month. Log cabin, town flat: no competition (at least for some of us).

But Joe has a special Mum as well and she brings him to our Nature Tot sessions in Friston Forest. There are no crabs and no lingonberries, no mountains and the adventures are less dramatic but he is in the woods, there is space to play, he can use a fire steel to help light our fire, he can take his turn to use a bow saw to cut wood, he can get his hands dirty playing with mud, scramble over logs, he can pond dip and hunt for bugs, wield sticks to build shelters, enjoy food cooked over an open fire, join in the games we play and he is learning about some of the creatures who share the woods with him.’

Joe has no idea how lucky or privileged he is. He has no idea how many magical moments are weaving around him and knitting together to create a childhood that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. Those weeks spent in a cabin, in a forest, in the middle of nowhere, will form the man he becomes. At three years old he is taking a share in the natural world around him, letting himself become a part of something very special that very few people these days realise exists. Hopefully this will stay with him for always.

A Norwegian cabin, Nature Tots; possibly there no competition between these two either. But the Nature Tot sessions are at least something. For others not as fortunate as Joe and his parents, they are a way for our children to enjoy being outside, a way for them to become confident in the great outdoors, to connect with the natural world in which they briefly find themselves, and they provide a path down which they can begin to travel leading to more enjoyment of nature, and a growing understanding and appreciation of the amazing world in which we live.

Find a Nature Tots session near you

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Thorney Island Bird Bonanza

Author Mike Russell
Senior Wildlife Advisor

osprey / Darin Smith

osprey / Darin Smith

Thorney Island, right in the far south-west corner of Sussex where you can actually look into Hampshire! A great place for birds and our Sussex Safari there, on a windy and sometimes wet day, threw up 60 species.

No doubt about the star turn of the day was an osprey. We saw it eating a fish on a sandbank before the tide and a yacht sailing too close saw the bird fly off low over the water with its prey still in its talons and majestically cruised by right in front of us, a wonderful moment. This view eclipsed the speedy flyby of a local peregrine.

The incoming tide pushed the waders nearer to us and so we were treated to flocks of grey plovers, many still in their splendid summer plumage, oystercatchers, innumerable curlew with a couple of whimbrel thrown in for comparison and the odd black-tailed and bar-tailed godwits.

Many common terns, already in their winter plumage, were feeding on the bountiful fish brought in by the incoming tide and right down by the most exposed and windiest part of the peninsular were a couple of little terns. It is always good to see a kingfisher and we managed to get all 17 of us to look at not one but two, through the telescopes, no mean feat on a very narrow paths.

The wind kept many of the small birds in hiding but we did manage to get views of a few migrating birds such as wheatear and spotted flycatcher and at one sheltered warm spot, a clouded yellow butterfly zipped by.

An excellent day then and it will be interesting to see how it compares with the next Sussex Safari I’m running at Thorney Island this week, but that is already fully booked I’m afraid!

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Wildlife Guardians go to the Seaside

Author Melanie Edge
Wildlife Guardian

rock pools at Seven Sisters Country Park

rock pools at Seven Sisters Country Park

Sounds a bit like Enid Blyton? Read on!

Recently, the Wildlife Guardians got their boots off for a change and spent a glorious day at the beach at Seven Sisters in East Sussex.

Brilliant hot sun and a picnic (with scones and cream) on the beach brought back childhood memories. As did the reason we were there – to see what we could find in the broad swathe of rock pools at the foot of the towering white chalk cliffs.

Rock pools have always fascinated me, poised between land and sea, a miniature landscape of mountains and valleys, underwater forests and caves. But rock-pooling was never so much fun as this in my childhood. Back then I would poke a finger at various squirmy things in the water and wonder idly what they were. Maybe I should have bought a book. Most likely it would have been ‘I-Spy at the Seaside.’ But I’d only have dropped it in the water.

No such worries on this occasion. All I had to do was shout, ‘hey, what’s this?’ and the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s experts, Olle Åkesson (Living Seas Officer) and Mike Murphy (Education Development Manager), would come splashing over full of enthusiasm to identify my new find. Spotty round blob? It’s a strawberry sea anemone. Funny little black fish? It’s a four-bearded rockling. Oh, look! That shell making its erratic way across the bottom of the pool has a hermit crab in it!

There were no Enid Blyton villains to contend with in our human world, but plenty of dramas playing out in the pools, where unseen predators lurked under rocks and shrimps entered an underwater cave, never to be seen again…just a disturbance in the water and a puff of sand to hint at their fate.

We rock-pooled, we picnicked on sandwiches, scones , raspberries and cream. We drank cups of tea. We rock pooled again. We looked at tiny samples of seawater in a magnifier and discovered a whole microscopic world in there.

We fell in the sea (some of us) and dried fast in the sun. We had another cup of tea and yet another scone.

The discoveries of the day included –

  • montagu’s sea snail
  • edible crab (we didn’t eat it)
  • strawberry sea anemone
  • beadlet anemone
  • porcelain crab
  • shrimps
  • sand mason worm
  • barnacles
  • barnacle moults (juvenile barnacles)
  • limpets
  • hermit crabs
  • neonate fish
  • four-bearded rockling

As pleasurable as the beach was the walk from the car park and back, past some of the beautiful Cuckmere meanders, where a heron perched on the bank –maybe hoping to make a meal of the grey mullet flashing in the water.

Oh, and did I mention the scones?

Join us next time. Have fun and help the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s work at the same time. What could be better?

Wildlife Guardians are a dedicated group of people who care passionately about the Sussex countryside, and enjoy a closer involvement with the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

To find out more please visit the Wildlife Guardians webpage or contact Alison Ross on 01273 497525.

shrimp

shrimp

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On the Move

Author Mike Russell
Senior Wildlife Advisor

migrant hawker / John East

migrant hawker / John East

Funny time of year this really, shortening days, changing colours and unpredictable weather. Wildlife is on the move so it is an exciting time to be out and about and try to find great wildlife in Sussex.

In the last week we’ve been to two contrasting landscapes in the County, the low wetlands of Pevensey Levels and the downland at Cissbury Ring, both wonderful habitats in their own way, but even with the difference, there was a link in relation to the wildlife we saw; things were on the move. Pevensey was sunny but a coolish breeze kept birds fairly low, but there was still some migrant birds moving through the bushes, mainly chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps. As happens when watching wildlife with groups, some people see things that disappear before others get onto it and this was the case when a few lucky people glimpsed a kingfisher flying off down one of the ditches while one extremely lucky individual briefly saw a stoat.

In a more sheltered spot where the sun was out, numerous dragonflies patrolled up and down a hedgerow, a few common darters and brown hawker, but the most numerous being migrant hawkers one of which was this wonderful shot taken by John East.

One of the sights of late summer and early autumn is that of swallows gathering on telegraph wires or swooping just above the ground, feeding up on insects ready for crossing the channel. At both Pevensey and Cissbury we were treated to dozens swallows flying around us.

Cissbury too was a bit affected by the weather as the cool, cloudy breeze kept birds low and in the densest parts of the bushes and it was a bit frustrating at times, but in the end most people got good views of most birds. There were a number of common redstarts that occasionally allowed us full views, and at one point we enjoyed the sight of five wheatears in a row sitting on fence posts. A lesser whitethroat obliged us all by sitting right out in the open for quite a long time which everyone enjoyed. But the stars of the morning were the very plentiful willow warblers, this time of year the majority of them are a lovely lemony colour and they drop on the Downs to feed up on the plentiful supply of berries.

In a warm, sheltered pocket, the temperature was warm enough to encourage a few butterflies out and we got the last of the chalkhill and common blues and a brown argus. A migrant clouded yellow flew past us as well.

All in all a pretty good couple of mornings. Just one more summer safari to go, there are still a couple of places left on the Seaford Head safari one on 2nd September, but keep a look at out on the website as I hope to continue with these during the winter.

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My wild summer

Wild Woodies / Katie Parker

Wild Woodies / Katie Parker

Author Katie Parker
Woods Mill Schools Officer

We have had a wonderful summer with our Wild Woodies holiday clubs at Woods Mill, Henfield and Stanmer Park, Brighton.

Outside there is a slight chill in the air and I can see a yellow leaf or two fluttering down to the ground in the breeze, so it is hard to believe that the summer is coming to an end, but we have enjoyed glorious sunshine for each of our clubs over the past four weeks.

We had a different environmental theme for each session and planned activities designed to encourage the children to explore the world around them, from discovering tadpoles in the pond yet to develop their jumping legs to observing the cute and furry small mammals living in our wildlife garden.

Although we write lesson plans and provide all the equipment for the activities, we never worry if the session doesn’t go quite to plan. We always pace the activities so that the children have the time and freedom to explore, and make new and interesting discoveries. One example of this is on our walk up to our wildlife garden at Stanmer Park. On our journey we pass through a small stand of huge cedar of Lebanon trees, and in one patch of rough grass the children spotted a cricket, two spiders in their webs and a caterpillar. After this they spent much time rummaging around on their hands and knees hoping to spot more creatures. Growing alongside these trees is a magnificent old beech tree, with several branches bowing down to the ground and rising up again. The children were delighted to find them, and spent half an hour scrambling up and working their way down again.

Everyone’s favourite activity always seems to be learning how to survive in the woodland by lighting a fire using special fire strikers, and I don’t think it’s just the thought of toasting a marshmallow at the end that spurs them on!

The highlight of the summer for me was observing the children becoming more relaxed and confident as the weeks went on, and how they are taken over with fascination when they discover some new creepy crawly. This confirms my belief that children are ‘designed’ to be in the outdoors, and seem to be the most serene and happy when they are surrounded by the wonders of nature.

Thank you to all the Wild Woodies who came along and to all the lovely volunteers who gave up their time to help. I can’t wait for our next wild adventure!

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Strangely Brown

Author Ryan Greaves
Summer Warden

I’ve had my fair share of special encounters with wildlife in my five years as Summer Warden at Woods Mill. The majority have happen by pure fluke: I was standing by the lake when an osprey dropped in two years ago, I’ve had a barn owl glide over my head and land on a fencepost next to me one rainy morning, I’ve turned over a log to find a great crested newt hiding underneath and I’ve uncovered a tiddly little harvest mouse collecting blackberries while I was retrieving litter from the reedbed!

But I like to think I know this site so well that I now have a sixth sense and internal calendar for what will appear and when. So last week I was out patrolling the reserve, on what was a fairly dull and overcast day. But as I walked from the large field back towards the lake the clouds parted and shed warm sunlight on the adjacent meadow. The cogs started turning…it’s mid-August, the sun is shining on the meadow, the sloe berries are ripening…brown hairstreak butterflies?

So I put on a gentle sprint over to the beautiful blackthorn hedge separating the two meadows and began scanning. Speckled wood, nice but not nice enough, small copper, one of my favourites but still not enough, then a flash of bright orange. There she is! A beautiful fresh female brown hairstreak looking for the perfect sunny spot to lay her eggs. Snap.

brown hairstreak / Ryan Greaves

brown hairstreak / Ryan Greaves

Brown hairstreaks are the UK’s largest hairstreak butterfly species. They are notoriously elusive since they spend much of their time resting and basking high up in tall shrubs and trees. The males are the more-elusive of the two sexes, congregating high on ash “master trees” positioned around the breeding area. But the females come to areas of young sun-lit blackthorn growth to lay their eggs. On the underside both sexes are not brown, but a stunning orange colour (hence the obscure Blackadder-referencing title), with the telltale white line streaking across them. But the females are particularly beautiful, once thought to be separate “golden hairstreak” species, with forewings that are brown but contain large orange patches.

This place will keep me coming back for many more years to come. Thank you to all the visitors who come to share it with me.

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Scrumping!

hedgerow harvest / Alan Price

hedgerow harvest / Alan Price

Author Fran Southgate
Wetlands Officer

I confess, I’ve just been caught red handed, carrier bag open with a trail of ripe damsons spilling behind me. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what possessed me ‘guvner’ is about to tumble apologetically out of my lips and then I realise that… actually I’m not 12 any more, I’m 40, and I’m not sorry at all. In fact, it’s that guilty pleasure of knowing that I’m foraging nature’s free spoils which gives me such a great sense of illicit pleasure! Just the mere mention of the word ‘scrumping’ tends to bring a big smile to my face.

At this time of year, the hedgerows are dripping with fruit, nuts and seeds as the autumn days start to draw in. There are blackberries, plums, damsons, sloes, cherries, elderberries, cobnuts, greengages, bullaces, apples, pears and much more, just tumbling off the trees. It’s a time of year when nature truly shows its abundance, as it helps all the various bugs and beasts to prepare for a long winter – ourselves included.

It saddens me slightly to see so much free food going to waste (and it has to be said, I do like my food!!), so there are times when I just can’t stop myself scrumping, and then when I’ve had my fill of fruit cakes and coulis’, distributing these forbidden fruits to friends and family. Many people often don’t know that they are allowed to take the fruit from the trees and hedges in public places, or they don’t know which fruits are edible, and so you often see splattered masses of squashed and wasted fruit lying on the ground as if in some kind of autumn fruits murder scene.

I know the fact that there is so much free food in the hedgerows is heralding the start of autumn – which for me is always slightly tinged with sadness at the replacement of long, warm, summers evenings, with short days and frost on my windows. However, one of the best things about scrumping is knowing that the rich damson jam that I’m now pouring into jars, and the bramble whisky that’s mellowing in my larder, will be there to bring back delicious memories of sunnier times when I open them on a cold rainy day in winter.

In the mean time I’ll make sure that I save some of my scrumpings for the birds, and then I’ll take pleasure in kicking off my shoes and devouring my apple and plum crumble as I watch them enjoying scrumping too.

I checked with WildCall, the Sussex Wildlife Trust information service, for their advice on collecting fruit and they said ‘Under Common Law everyone has a right to collect the fruit of plants, providing that you are not trespassing on private property and that the plant is not specifically protected for example if it is on a SSSI. Also this law assumes that you are collecting the berries for personal use rather than for sale or commercial use.

Picking wild food can be a fun and tasty outdoor activity that we can all take part in. But please remember to forage responsibly and leave plenty fruit for others to enjoy, including wildlife! Many birds and mammals will already be trying to fatten themselves up on berries and nuts ready for winter, we wouldn’t want to deprive them.

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