11:00AM, Tuesday 06 August 2019
Protesters upset at potential environmental harm to a newly-opened public space made their voices heard at its official opening on Saturday.
The Royal Borough has opened up almost 40 per cent of Battlemead Common, a 110-acre patch of land off Lower Cookham Road, having bought it in December for £1million.
Council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside), who was at the opening, said on Tuesday: “This is a fantastic opportunity if you live in the town to be able to go down with your children and wander through beautiful open space.”
But at least 30 people from conservation groups WildCookham and WildMaidenhead and environment group RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition continued to voice concerns about the impact of people and dogs affecting the environment.
The groups want further studies to determine whether opening up the land will harm the area’s wildlife if opened to people and pets.
Mike Copland, of WildCookham, said: “If you have got a patch of land which has had only cattle and the occasional passage of the farmer for a very long time, then you suddenly introduce people and dogs, it is going to have an impact.
“It seems to be quite obvious it will.”
Mike also hopes the Friends of Battlemead Common, which was put together to create ideas about the space, will meet regularly and have a real impact on how the green space is run.
He added: “There is a strong feeling, we believe, that the wind is with us.
“There are increasing numbers of people who may not put it into words in quite the same way we would but are genuinely concerned that we are putting our own human interests above the long-term need of nature, of which we are a part.”
Cllr Dudley urged walkers to keep their dogs on leads and said he was keen for future decisions to be made through the Friends of Battlemead Common group, which he said is due to meet next month.
More land at Battlemead Common could be opened if surveys deem it appropriate but nothing is imminent, he added.
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