Historic Panshanger landscape saved

PUBLISHED: 16:50 09 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:50 09 March 2017

A good population of water voles lives in  Panshanger Park.

A good population of water voles lives in Panshanger Park.

Archant

A controversial gravel digging plan that threatened Panshanger Park’s original design has been dropped, after it aroused harsh criticism.

In September, Tarmac revealed a plan for mineral extraction immediately south of the Lower Broadwater - where the famed landscape designer Humphry Repton broadened the River Mimram in a project starting in 1799.

As the project would have permanently enlarged the Lower Broadwater, it was condemned by critics as a distortion of Repton’s much-praised vision for the Mimram valley.

Wildlife enthusiasts also questioned whether it could harm the park’s strong population of water voles.

But after digesting responses to its consultation, Tarmac, which opened the park near Welwyn Garden City in 2013 after years of digging minerals, has withdrawn its scheme.

A spokesman for Tarmac said: “We paused preparatory ecological works on the Lower Broadwater at Panshanger Park while we met with statutory consultees and local stakeholders to consult on our approved proposals for mineral extraction and restoration.

“Following these meetings, we have carefully considered the feedback we have received, and have decided not to extract the mineral between the Lower Broadwater and the mineral extraction area immediately to the south.

“As this is a change to our approved working and restoration plan for the Park, we will need to ensure that these changes are shown on an amended plan, which will need to be submitted and approved by the county council.

This process may take some months to resolve, but the key aim is to ensure that we maintain and conserve the historic Repton landscape.

“We would like to thank statutory consultees and local stakeholders for engaging with us on this issue. We are proud of our ongoing restoration and stewardship of Panshanger Park, and see it as a very special place to visit.”

Gary O’Leary, Hertingfordbury Parish Council chairman, said: “This is good news. It respects the historic a status of the landscape.

“There will be a much better restoration of the site.”


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