Despite living in Merrow for 17 years and having walked the dog on Merrow Downs for most days in the last 8 years, it’s been the campaign to stop the floodlights that has really made me appreciate what is right under our noses here, and what we stand to lose.
Walking regularly in the woodland at the top of Merrow Downs over the last year I have observed badger setts, a tawny owl nest up high, a blue tit nest at eye level inside a tree trunk, deer on both sides of the woodland fence, mice carrying eggs, foxes and rabbits galore, and recently a swarm of bees high above the tree canopy. Some of these discoveries have been courtesy of a motion-sensitive trail camera lent by a friend (look closely)
but some of them I have found myself, simply by walking slowly, watching and listening. And doing this fairly regularly.
I saw the first spring flowers come up and die down, the blackthorn go crazy like a wedding arch, the early fluorescent leaves of the beech and chestnut trees, and the darkening of the path through the woodland with the full foliage of summer.
Watching the changes in the woodland at close quarters through the seasons has given me an even better appreciation of what we will lose if the Urnfield development goes ahead as planned. Light pollution would affect the behaviour of birds, insects and nocturnal mammals; an ill-thought out late addition to the plans to replace the boundary fence and clear the steep bank of all trees on the Urnfield side would remove huge areas of habitat and damage remaining trees and burrows. And any tree clearance will further intensify the light pollution over Merrow Downs, beyond even what we have shown to be of a magnitude greater than that claimed by Tormead.
If anything, seeing close up what we have on Merrow Downs, including in the woodland, makes me want to fight even harder to keep this amazing natural environment, for us and for the flora and fauna that share it with us.