01:30PM, Monday 11 March 2019
Evidence of otters and unique wildlife have been discovered in a large green space between Maidenhead and Cookham.
Members of the WildMaidenhead ecology group have found evidence of ‘otter activity’ in Battlemead Common, a 110-acre green space purchased for £1million by the borough council in December.
Barn owl nests and water birds that are ‘locally unique’ have also been located on the site.
These areas are set to remain closed off to the public while it is established what wildlife is there.
Speaking at a Cookham parish council meeting last Tuesday, Cllr Fiona Hewer, who is also chair of WildMaidenhead, said: “From a biodiversity point of view, it's a very special place and we are very happy that the borough council bought the space.
“It’s the first place I have seen on this stretch of the Thames with signs of otters. The Environment Agency has confirmed it.”
Cllr Hewer said that an ecology survey is set to take place there in the spring and that while new information is still being found out, it should not be opened up to the public.
She along with parish council chairman Cllr Ian Wernham met borough council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con Riverside) and had a ‘very constructive’ conversation about the issue.
Cllr Hewer said: “Our view was that a public right of way shouldn’t be put through the middle of the site.
“When people go walking they take their dogs and they could scare the water birds. If they go it could have a damaging impact on biodiversity.
“Let’s just understand what is there before we decide on the routes for paths so we don’t do something that damages the wildlife."
Cllr Ian Wernham added that a ‘Friends of Battlemead’ group could be set up in the near future.
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