Grant helps secure future of Harpenden’s crown jewel

The proposed site for 2 new ponds in the run off area for the existing ponds

The proposed site for 2 new ponds in the run off area for the existing ponds - Credit: Archant

Funding has been boosted for the future maintenance of Harpenden Common in recognition of improvements to the beauty spot.

John Bagshaw, town clerk of Harpenden town council (HTC), said Natural England has recently announced that it was almost doubling its environmental stewardship grant to the authority.

Until now Natural England, the Government’s independent adviser on the natural environment, has given HTC about £2,200 a year to look after the common but this has been increased to nearly £4,000 per annum, for 10 years.

Mr Bagshaw said it was an accolade for the council and local volunteers who tended the site.

The council has recently approved its conservation management plan for the common 2013-18, setting out features, including the golf course, heath and meadows, it intends maintaining and improving.

Visitors are to be discouraged from excessive feeding of ducks on Southdown ponds as the birds are fouling the water, affecting its quality.

Mr Bagshaw said: “Ducks are being fed things like bread which is not good for them so we want to encourage visitors to feed them proper duck food.”

Most Read

The ponds were originally created for drainage and still take road run-off from the town, although the fluid has oil and chemicals removed from it.

Invasive scrub encroaching upon the green space is another problem the council wants to tackle over the next five years.

The action plan also refers to Bamville Wood, which is to have some undergrowth and saplings cleared to open up views across to the common, encouraging visitors to use a currently overgrown corner of the woodland. A new horse ride is also on the cards, to be created from the public right of way.

Over 30 project days have been held since a pilot task day was trialled six years ago. Volunteers donate time to paint posts, put up railings and clear scrub and bramble.

HTC is keen to continue the practice and is holding another project day next month.

The council will also consider developing a programme of guided walks to highlight the site’s habitats and wildlife.