Lousy Bush Nature Reserve: 'Magical grotto of loveliness' in Wrestlingworth field will officially become a nature reserve

The nature reserve at Wrestlingworth used to be a two-and-a-half acre gravel pit

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:26 pm

A wildlife haven labelled a "magical grotto of loveliness" in a Bedfordshire field is to officially become a local nature reserve.

The description was applied to Lousy Bush nature reserve at Wrestlingworth near Sandy, which used to be a two-and-a-half acre gravel pit.

Designating the site in this way would enable Wrestlingworth and Cockayne Hatley Parish Council to manage the natural habitat under this status in future.

Lousy Bush nature reserve at Wrestlingworth
Lousy Bush nature reserve at Wrestlingworth

The process involves a delegation of a Central Bedfordshire Council function, according to a report to its development control committee.

"The Wrestlingworth and Cockayne Hatley neighbourhood plan 2016 to 2031 expresses the wish to see Lousy Bush designated as a local nature reserve," said the report.

"A village survey of the residents saw unanimous agreement with this proposal."

CBC's senior countryside officer Steve Halton said: "This is slightly unusual as it's not a planning application. It's more of a request really.

"It will be easier for the local community group, which manages the site, to apply for funding, and it improves its status in terms of planning and protection.

"The site is publicly accessible about half a mile outside Wrestlingworth, surrounded by farmland.

"It's an old gravel pit and has at least one large pond with willow trees, and is much used by local residents."

Independent Potton Central Bedfordshire councillor Tracey Wye has visited the nature reserve, and said: "It's magical. It's such a little grotto of loveliness in the middle of a field.

"I think the council would be doing a great service to the community to support this."

Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny said: "I want to pay tribute to the local walking and wildlife group which has done so much to get this moving in recent years.

"It's a thoroughly sensible idea and the option suggested would be endorsed by ward councillors."

Project supporter Patrick Humphrey described the site as "an old gravel pit which was falling into disrepute" in 2008.

"There were horrible oil cans and all sorts of things in there," he explained.

"We came up with the parish walking and wildlife group and set about trying to sort out this land."

Having started around 2010, the group received an award from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) for biodiversity and landscape improvement by 2014.

"We set about a huge clearance effort and tried to improve the landscape of the area to let light in.

"By 2014 we identified 25 species of birds and 112 species of moths.

"It's got steadily better and we've more than 50 species of birds, 170 plus of moths, 17 species of butterfly and six species of dragonfly.

"Work included cutting down trees and lining one of the gravel pit ponds to maintain a degree of water there.

"It's just a haven now compared to what it was," he said. "There's also a bird hide. It's a great benefit to everyone."

Independent Biggleswade councillor Hayley Whitaker asked whether the site would revert back into CBC ownership if it fell into disrepair or the community group ever disbanded.

Mr Halton replied it would be up to the parish council what happens, as the delegation process removes any obligation on the part of CBC.

Independent Linslade councillor Victoria Harvey said: "It's fantastic to hear that and really inspiring.

"It's a wonderful resource, having seen and walked over it."

The proposal was unanimously approved by councillors at Central Bedfordshire Council's development management committee meeting on Wednesday, May 5.