west sussex county times


Eco-project will see Adur return to natural meander

SHADOW Environment Secretary Nick Herbert went on 'safari' during a visit to the wildland project managed by the Knepp Castle Estate near West Grinstead. 

The ground-breaking rewilding project is being run by estate owner Charlie Burrell who gave the South Downs Conservative MP an extensive tour of the 3,500 acre site. 

The aim of the project is to return the land to its natural state after many years of intensive farming and to allow grazing animals such as longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs, Exmoor ponies and fallow deer to roam as freely as possible with minimal human intervention. 

Mr Herbert was told about plans to allow the River Adur - which was canalised in the eighteenth century - to return to its natural meander, thereby allowing the return of seasonal flooding. 

This will encourage a greater variety of aquatic and marshland plants, insect life, amphibians, and wading birds. 

There will also be work to restore former wetland areas on the estate inducing old ponds and water meadows that were sacrificed to farming.  

Since the project began in 2001, a number of rare species have already been spotted on the site including - the common blue butterfly, which is no longer common in Britain despite its name. 


The project has generated considerable interest from scientists, governments and organisations across Europe and received support from Natural England, the Environment Agency, Sussex Wildlife Trust, the British Trust for Ornithology, the National Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  

Mr Burrell said: "It was a delight  meeting Nick Herbert. His understanding of agriculture and ecology is so refreshing. 

"He immediately clicked with what we're trying to do here at Knepp. I really feel itísí important we have politicians like this who can see into the future."  

Mr Herbert said: "It was fascinating to see how the landscape has already changed in the short time since the wildland project was started. 

"And I'm not surprised that it has generated so much interest. It's a project that will provide great inspiration to people who care about the countryside and want to reverse the decline in our biodiversity." 

Mr Herbert said he was delighted Mr Burrell had agreed to contribute to the ongoing debate over the future of the landscape, habitats and wildlife through the Future Countryside web≠site (www.futurecountry≠side.com) set up by the MP.

The Knepp Castle Estate has recently thrown its weight behind opposition to the proposed landfill site at Laybrook Brickworks, to the west of the wildland project. Mr Burrell has said that a landfill site will threaten the project's survival and fly in the face of efforts to clean up the environment.